Boundless Series

Black Atticus

Spoken word performer - Black Atticus - often called one of the most heartfelt voices of Southern hip-hop, performed at the University of Tennessee.
photo of musician black atticuc

Spoken word performer and hip-hop artist Joseph Wood — aka Black Atticus — presented the fourth session of Boundless: Artists in the Archives on March 31, 2022. The UT Libraries created the Boundless series to demonstrate how the unique materials in our special collections not only inform scholarship, but inspire creative work.

When we invited Black Atticus to delve into the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, he was especially inspired by materials in the Dr. C. S. Boyd Photograph Collection. The collection consists of photographs of African Americans in the Knoxville area during the early 20th century, including many photos of Dr. Charles S. Boyd, his dental office, and his family. In addition to visiting our archives, Black Atticus explored collections at the Beck Cultural Exchange Center.

From his research in the archives, he wove together verbal imagery of local Black history and culture for an original song, “Seed 2 Sun,” created just for our Boundless program. During a discussion following the performance, Black Atticus told the audience he was notably moved by the historical record of Black Knoxville communities lost to “urban renewal,” and he expressed his gratitude to the Beck Cultural Exchange Center and the UT Libraries for documenting and preserving the history and cultural heritage of the local Black community.