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Leadership Tuesdays -- Developing Women Leaders

June 12, 2012

Toni L. Blackman

"I Rhyme Like A Girl"

Today, Leadership Tuesdays presents Toni L. Blackman, a poet, rap artist, and self-described "international champion of hip hop culture." Her commitment to use her craft to create cultural change led the United States Department of State to select her as an American Cultural Specialist. Ms. Blackman travelled around the world lecturing, conducting workshops and performing works that challenge and condemn violence against women and promote self esteem among girls and women.


Blackman founded the Freestyle Union, a New York-based organization for hip hop artists and rappers that uses free-style rapping to encourage social responsibility. As an artist, she has shared the stage with notables such as  Erykah Badu, Mos Def, The Roots, Wu Tang Clan, GURU, Bahamadia, Boot Camp Clic, Me’Shell NdegeoCello, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, Jill Sobule and Rickie Lee Jones.


As a scholar and educator, Toni developed and launched a program called, "I Rhyme Like A Girl" to build self esteem and empower young girls by using creative tools such as poetry, lyrics and performance. Further, this Echoing Green and Open Society Institute (Soros Foundation) Fellow has done an extensive amount of work with the Girl Scouts of America and was instrumental in launching “The Girls Hip Hop Project” at the Center for Cultural Exchange in Portland, Maine (a program that provides workshops for teen girls from the Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and many other places). Her latest efforts are as a teaching artist at Brooklyn Communication Arts & Media High School (BCAM) where she teaches “The Art of Emceeing”.

In 2012, Toni was selected as a Dove® role model. With a goal of promoting self esteem and inspiring women and girls to reach their full potential, Dove is highlighting real women role models who "should be famous". Check her out in the video below! For more information on Dove's 'Women Who Should Be Famous' program, visit
Dove® Role Models on Facebook.