Starting 1998, as host of the rural, Appalachian region's only hip-hop
radio program "Lights Out," Thousand Kites media artist Nick Szuberla
received hundreds of letters from inmates recently transferred from distant
cities into two new, local SuperMax prisons. The prisoners’ letters described
racism and human rights violations, and Szuberla responded first by playing a
game of chess with the prisoners over the air and through the mail (he lost),
and then with artistic projects, including bringing hip-hop artists together
with mountain musicians and organizing radio broadcasts for prisoners’
families. Involving dozens of artists, volunteers, and friends the
project continues to expand from the initial chess game.
* The criminal justice system is the most pressing civil rights issue in the United States;
Hip-hop meets Mountain Music
Thousand Kites is a project of Appalshop , the Appalachian-based arts and education center.