Fourth in our series of Black Women Who Are Changing the World is Dream Hampton. You may have heard of her recently earth-shattering six-part documentary series, Surviving R. Kelly.
Filmmaker, writer, and organizer, Hampton has contributed to titles such as the Village Voice, Harper’s Bazaar, and NPR. An educator in more ways than one, Hampton is a Stanford University Professor, with a long relationship with rap music, which she has dubbed “revolutionary music”, culture, and the rights of women.
Hampton’s work has been critically celebrated for decades now, having won awards including an Emmy in the 90s for the Biggie episode of VH1’s Behind the Music. One of the first to focus critical attention on misogyny in hip-hop culture, Hampton is credited as one of few music writers to call out rapper, and now successful entrepreneur, Dr. Dre for his physical attack on hip hop video host (and woman) Dee Barnes, in a piece that she wrote for The Source while studying film.
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Her calls for justice and attention on women have real world affects.
In the case of her work as Executive Producer of Surviving R. Kelly, which broke ratings records for the Lifetime network, we are presently seeing a nearly two decade history of abuse finally being addressed through legal action, as a result of the power of film - of art. The existence of Hampton’s documentary, and the emotional response it has garnered, has seemingly outweighed calls from parents as well as expose articles; ramping up legal proceedings and leading musicians to call for their collaborations with the docuseries’ subject to be removed from streaming services.