Black History Month Feature: Moody Black

How many hyphenates can local artist Moody Black lay claim to?

Award-winning poet-motivational speaker-host-TEDx speaker-hip-hop artist-storyteller-comedian-photographer-actor-SmartArts Teaching artist. The list goes on.

Through all of the various mediums in which he practices, a common thread is education. Moody is passionate about uplifting and educating audiences, teaching the joys of self-expression through poetry to his adult and youth students, and speaking about the importance of having purpose and challenging depression.

In 2019, Moody collaborated with United Way on a special poem about our work in the community, “We Are Stronger United,” which served as the inspirational centerpiece of our campaign anthem video.

His 2020 album, Manifest, was recently nominated for Best Album by the Upstate Music Awards (vote here), in addition to four other nominations for video, album art, collaboration and Best Solo Artist.

In the first interview for our special Black History Month series, Moody shares how a long list of influential teachers shaped his career path after graduation, and how they continue to inspire him to give back through education.

How has education influenced your life?

Education has always been stressed in my household and from my mentors. Even growing up, my mom would always make my sister and I read. Especially, poetry!

Who is one teacher who set you on the path you are on today and how did they do it?

There have several teachers that helped and influenced me along the way: My 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Richardson, my 9th grade English teacher Mr. Alexander (me and my best friend had him for different periods, but we would compete to see who would have the better vocabulary grade), my 11th grade history teacher Mr. Bordogna, and Dr. Frances Hardy, who was over our Black History Club. She was always teaching us about our heritage.

Then, my art teachers and theater teachers from 9th grade until 12th grade: Ms. Evins, Mrs. Corbin, and Mr. Dennis. Theater and art were my outlets. Blame my mind and not my heart if I missed anyone.

Now, how does it feel to be able to teach others?

It feels wonderful to be able to teach others and have young people excited about learning art and poetry! I want the students motivated to express themselves.

Why is Black History Month important to you?

Black History is important to me because it allows people of African descent to know their origins, their identity, and their contribution. Personally, it allows me to have a connection to my ancestors.

Tell us about a historical figure or event that you feel a deep connection to that you think people should know more about — especially during Black History Month?

I think people need to know more about Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre. As African Americans, we don’t get to see how wealthy our people were. We only learn about slavery or being impoverished. Some of the triumphs of our history here in America.

As a fellow poet, what was your reaction to Amanda Gorman’s reading at the inauguration?

Amanda Gordon is awesome! I loved her work before the inauguration. But her being able to perform her poem in such a momentous event allows everyone to see how powerful poetry can be, especially her poem, where it can send the message of unity and taking pride in what this country could be.  

Can you recommend any Moody Black-approved poetry to read during Black History Month?

Yes, I have a great poem on my YouTube page about Martin Luther King, Jr. “Things You Didn’t Know.”

In honor of United Way African American Leadership Greenville’s 20th anniversary in 2019, we created a special scholarship fund for students pursing higher education. This year, in celebration of Black History Month, please consider a gift to the AALG Scholarship Fund and help us support the next generation of Black educators, community leaders and history-makers in Greenville County. CLICK HERE to give today.

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