Activist, rapper and ‘Sorry to Bother You’ director Boots Riley to speak at Hopkins

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Radical Oakland rapper and activist Boots Riley, best known for directing 2018’s trippy, anti-capitalist satire-tour de force “Sorry to Bother You,” is coming to Homewood next month.

Johns Hopkins University’s Foreign Affairs Symposium announced this week that Riley will visit Shriver Hall on April 2 to talk about his career in film, activism, music and more. Riley joins a lineup of others who’ve visited this semester, including Afro-Colombian human right activist Erlendy Cuero Bravo, Iranian-American poet Solmaz Sharif, ICAN executive director Beatrice Fihn, or are still planning to as part of the symposium’s protest-centric “Disrupt” series.

Beyond directing “Sorry to Bother You,” about a newly ambitious Oakland telemarketer who reckons with ridiculous exploitation and corporate greed at work, Riley has made his name as a community organizer, famously during the 2011 Occupy Oakland protests and, just this month, in the Oakland teacher strikes.

He’s also a leader of the political rap group The Coup, which he co-founded in 1991 and has put out six albums, including “Sorry to Bother You” in 2012 (based off of Riley’s original screenplay), as well as the soundtrack for his feature film last year. Riley also wrote the 2015 lyric and philosophy collection “Tell Homeland Security-We Are the Bomb,” released by radical nonprofit publisher Haymarket Books, among other books.

The event is free and open to the general public, though the symposium is selling reserved tickets here starting March 27. The auditorium opens at 7:30 p.m. on April 2.

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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
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