BlackSpace and The Revenge of the Afronauts

Local artists at work with Pierce Freelon at BlackSpace. (Staff photo by Isaiah Ball)


Located on 212 West Main Street is a unique recording studio. The “BlackSpace” is an Afro-futurism digital creation space home to Durham’s youth. This makerspace offers the youth a “wokeshop” series offering personal training in the digital and creative arts including videography, spoken word poetry, puppetry, coding, 3D printing and electronic music production.

BlackSpace: a studio of creativity. (Staff photo by Isaiah Ball)

Kids, ranging from the earliest ages of speech development until the completion of high school, are allowed to utilize the space to help manifest their dreams into reality. Pierce Freelon, “a brother from another planet,” started molding his vision BlackSpace by himself, receiving funding from various donors. Shortly after, Marian M, manifestor of dreams, introduced poetry and spoken word which brought emcee Joshua“Rowdy” Rowsey to the scene. Through word of mouth, students have come to be a part of the BlackSpace, as Freelon frequently attends other local events to help spread the vision.

Every Friday, BlackSpace leads Med City Cypher series that is held at 9:19 p.m. in front of the bronze bull statue. On this little corner, the heartbeat of the community is felt in every rhyme spoken. From beatboxing, freestyle and “floetic” hype from the crowd, the space becomes more welcoming as guests share new ideas through rap and spoken word.

“I zone out a lot, I blank when I freestyle, so I just stick with it,” explained Zechariah “Zone” Woodard.

He went on to describe the BlackSpace as his place of education. Artistically, he would have not progressed without Blackspace’s leadership.

Zone confessed, “I don’t feel like I am at the top tier of my craft, but I do see myself becoming a major name.” Although it took time to develop a foundation, he is much further along with the help of his friends who attend other wokeshops.

Another student, Jeremiah “Jamm” Henderson, put a lot of time and energy into the album release project. “Jamm” learned a lot of lessons in creating the album. His most intimidating experience was talking on air with 88.7fm.

“Before two weeks, I had never been on the radio. It was neat because a fan or major record label could have possibly been tuning in.”

The Nemes “Our Protector.” (Staff photo by Isaiah Ball)

“October 6th was a very big day for us,” said Jamm. The BlackSpace project “Revenge of the Afronauts” had its album release party at the Pinhook. The energy of the crowd and the other artists was the biggest factor he was looking most forward to. The album consisted of sampling a few of original tracks and the unique voices of the students in the studio.

“The Blackspace is constantly moving upward. We don’t have much to change because we are on our own unique course of advancement,” asserted Zone. Change is something that people set goals for and measures. The development of the space is only going forward and the album signifies the path of progression.

Lourdes “Lil Monsta” Pietri, a senior in high school, said she did not want to leave the BlackSpace when she completes high school.

“Looking back, I really want to study music. I am open to learning more about music, even if that means leaving the nest.” Lil Monsta plans to study music at Temple University and take her skill set to the next level.

Khori “Beani” Talley, a junior in high school, described his experience at BlackSpace as being very welcoming.

“I’m one of the new faces and I already feel like this is my family,” he observed. “There is no real process of joining except being involved.” Beani is glad he was able to join before graduating so he could learn more.

Graduating high school students have the option of becoming facilitators for incoming students. The BlackSpace has requested help from the community to donate time to invest in Durham’s youth.

You can find more info about the BlackSpace by viewing the calendar of events on the website below or visit the studio.