Iowa Celebrates The 20th Anniversary of Public Enemy’s Fear Of A Black Planet


On April 1st, 2010, founding members of Public Enemy will spend the day in Iowa City to celebrate the group’s Fear of a Black Planet, which turns twenty this spring. The big event, “Fear of a Black Planet, 20 Years Later,” will take place on April 1 from 7-8:30pm at the Englert Theater (221 E. Washington St.) in downtown Iowa City, Iowa. It is free and open to the public.

Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, PE production unit Bomb Squad members Hank Shocklee and Keith Shocklee, and Hip Hop Activist and Media Assassin Harry Allen will attend University of Iowa classes, participate in a student radio interview, and do a Q&A at a museum exhibition featuring Allen’s photos of the early-1980s Hip Hop scene. The day’s events culminate in a panel discussion about the group’s groundbreaking album, followed by a headlining performance by the Bomb Squad at the Mission Creek Festival.

The half hour interview with Public Enemy can be heard on KRUI radio at 12:30pm, Central Time. The evening panel, “Fear of a Black Planet, 20 Years Later,” will take place at 7pm at the Englert Theater in downtown Iowa City. It is free and open to the public. The evening event kicks off with a 20-minute slideshow presentation by Harry Allen titled “Shooting the Enemy: My Life In Pictures With the People Who Became Public Enemy.” Allen will then be joined by Chuck D, Hank Shocklee, and Keith Shocklee in a panel discussion about Fear of a Black Planet (moderated by Kembrew McLeod, RoboProfessor, and the co-producer of a recent documentary on the history of sampling, Copyright Criminals.)

These events coincide with the opening of a multifaceted on-campus exhibition titled Two Turntables and a Microphone: Hip-Hop Contexts featuring Harry Allen’s “Part of the Permanent Record: Photos from the Previous Century.” This University of Iowa Museum of Art exhibition opened Saturday, March 27 and remains on view through June 27, 2010 in the Black Box Theater at the university’s Iowa Memorial Union. The show features twenty-six large, black-and-white photographs by Harry Allen-photos that gained public attention after a 2007 exhibition at the Eyejammie Fine Arts Gallery in New York City.

The exhibition was organized through the collaborative efforts of co-curators Deborah Whaley, UI assistant professor of American studies and African American studies, and Kembrew McLeod, UI associate professor of communication studies. Allen’s photos are on display alongside additional archival materials, including audio clips, album covers, hip-hop flyers, a continuous loop of McLeod’s documentary Copyright Criminals, and a digital display created by Whaley focusing on the work of pioneering graffiti artist Lady Pink (who will visit campus later in April to give a talk and work on a mural).

For more information contact Kembrew McLeod via email at