Toni Blackman

Toni Blackman is a cultural ambassador and an advocate of improvisation. Highly respected as the founder and director of Freestyle Union, a cipher workshop that uses freestyling as a tool to encourage social responsibility, Blackman holds great influence in the world of hip-hop activism. Her diplomatic work encompasses peace and reconciliation, literacy, HIV awareness, and gender violence prevention. As the U.S. State Department’s first hip-hop cultural envoy, her work has consistently communicated that hip-hop is the international platform to position the United States as a good global citizen.

Blackman has performed and spoken at the Aspen Institute Summit in Oman, at the prestigious Pio Manzù International Conference in Italy, at the Man Up Summit during the World Cup in South Africa, for the Ford Foundation, and at the City Xpo Big Ideas Conference in Virginia. She toured Southeast Asia with Jazz at Lincoln Center’s musical ambassador program and has shared the stage with the likes of Erykah

Get the Free Speech News You Need

protesters in face masks carrying old Belarusian national flags

PEN America has a new weekly newsletter, PEN Points, bringing you a digest of the biggest free expression news of the week, plus the analysis and insights you trust from PEN America experts.