On Tuesday, November 4th, the American Indian Student Union of University of Maryland College Park sponsored a Frank Waln concert in celebration of National American Indian Heritage Month. I asked if it would be possible for us to bring some of our Baltimore City Title VII Indian Education students (all members of NAASAP) to the concert. Not only were we invited to the concert, we were also invited to eat lunch with Frank and company earlier in the day at Busboys and Poets in Hyattsville.
Frank is a friend of mine. We first met through a First People’s Fund professional development training in 2012 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His career has really taken off since that time. He is an inspiration to Native people across the land. He is an award winning Hip Hop Artist and was recently showcased by MTV in a series called “Rebel Music” which was released just yesterday.
Frank is from the Rosebud Reservation and he is Sicangu Lakota. He was valedictorian of his high school class, a Gates scholar and he is a recent graduate of Columbia College in Chicago. We also got to visit with one of Frank’s best friends/collaborators, Lumhe “Micco” Sampson, son of actor Will Sampson, who is a world class dancer. Lumhe is Seneca, Muskogee and Creek.
Although Baltimore’s Title VII Program has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with UMD through the Office of Multiethnic Student Education (OMSE), this particular experience has been one of the most meaningful because our students had the opportunity to truly interact with other young Native leaders. Not only did they get to spend time with Frank and Micco, they got to spend time with members of the UMD American Indian Student Union (and the president is Lumbee, like them). They were welcomed and engaged by everyone we met. They asked Frank about different things, like how he started rapping, what it’s like being a professional artist, etc. He was extremely gracious, kind and as always, down to earth. He and Micco gave an AMAZING performance. The girls are still talking about it. The American Indian Student Union gave them all t-shirts, which Frank and Micco autographed. That’s what’s up.