Institute for Advanced Study and Northrop Present

Drumfolk and the Stono Rebellion

Spotlight Series
Past event
Oct 11, 2023
Step Afrika! dancer with rays of light projected behind him

When the Stono Rebellion cost Africans the right to use their drums, the beats found their way into the body of the people—the Drumfolk. This conversation between the founder of Step Afrika! and an expert in anti-colonial and Black political thought, moderated by acclaimed hip-hop artist and drummer Truth Maze, explores the Stono Rebellion of 1739, South Carolina’s Negro Act which followed in 1740, and the historic and artistic implications of percussion as an embodied practice in the American South. 

C. Brian Williams, Founder and Executive Producer of Step Afrika!

Moderated by Truth Maze: hip hop and spoken word artist, traditional drummer, and educator

About the Panelists

C. Brian Williams is a graduate of Howard University and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Beta Chapter. After living in Africa, he began to research stepping, exploring the many sides of this exciting, yet under-recognized American art form and founded Step Afrika! in 1994. Williams has performed, lectured and taught in Europe, South and Central America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean and throughout the United States. He is a founder of the historic Step Afrika! International Cultural Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa. Brian was named a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2022.

Truth Maze (aka William Harris) was born with a strong rhythmic sense, making him a natural drummer. Known as ‘The Unstoppable B-Fresh’, William became part of the groundbreaking I.R.M. Crew, one of the first hip-hop groups out of the Twin Cities to attain national accolades, thus cementing his place as an icon in the Minnesota music scene. With 2000+ shows under his belt, this drummer, poet, beat boxer, hip- hop scholar, and youth mentor has recorded & performed internationally, and has been compared to Gil Scott Heron, Saul Williams and KRS-One. Blending his vocal arts with instruction and theater, Truth Maze balances his love for music with his love for his community working with numerous youth and community organizations. His art is his passion, activism, and spirit.

Know Before You Go

Event Information

  • In-person Seating: General Admission
  • Doors: 2:30 pm
  • Event Begins: 3:30 pm CT
  • Online Access: You will receive an automatic email reminder one day and one hour prior to the event including the Zoom link and instructions for those who wish to attend in person.
  • Accessibility: All Spotlight Series events are professionally captioned and are available either online or in person at the Best Buy Theater at Northrop. Some accommodation requests may take us time to arrange, so please make requests for this event by Mon, Sep 25, 2023. If you are registering after this date, please reach out to us so we can explore available options. Questions/requests, contact Abby Travis,

Part of the 2023-24 Spotlight Series

2023-24 Spotlight Series: Moving Through Injustice