Durham County

Hip-hop artist, activist Pierce Freelon to run for Durham mayor

Pierce Freelon
Pierce Freelon

Hip-hop artist and activist Pierce Freelon has announced plans to run for Durham mayor.

Freelon, 33, is the third candidate to announce he’s running for the position after Mayor Bill Bell said he won’t run after serving 16 years.

City Councilman Steve Schewel and former City Councilman Farad Ali have also indicated they will seek the two-year mayoral seat. Candidates don’t officially register until July for the fall election.

Freelon is the creator of Blackspace, a digital maker space where young people learn about music, film and coding. He has taught in the Departments of Music and of African, African American and Diaspora Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. He also leads the jazz hip-hop band The Beast.

Freelon, a Durham native, said he is excited about the way Durham has developed and transformed.

“But I think it is very important that the city grows in a way that is inclusive of all members of various communities in Durham,” he said. “I think it is important time for young leadership and creative leadership with new ideas and new perspectives.”

Freelon hasn’t run for office before, but he has served on several nonprofit boards, including the North Carolina Arts Council, which he recently rotated off of.

Freelon is the son of jazz singer and composer Nnenna Freelon and renowned architect Phil Freelon, principal architect of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges