Afropunk: How The DIY Movement Became One Of The World's Famous Cultural Organisations

Afropunk: How The DIY Movement Became One Of The World's Famous Cultural Organisations


This July, Afropunk's mix of art, activism and music returns to London for the second time, taking over the capital's new Printworks venue with the help of Lianne La Havas, Nao, JME, Little Simz and more.

Now a global brand, Afropunk started as a DIY movement in the US, founded by London-born Matthew Morgan. Feeling like an outsider and longing for a sense of home, Morgan became fed up with the lack of representation in the American subculture. 

Afropunk was born out of that frustration, first with the film of the same name, made with James Spooner, and later the music festival that was held for the first time in Brooklyn in 2004. 


Book tickets and packages to AFROPUNK FEST London 2017 here



It attracted around 250 people and was free to attend, basking in the spirit of punk and DIY. Since then the festival has doubled in size every year, and now attracts up to 60,000 people. 

Unfortunately for Morgan and co. the financial stress that accompanied this growth made it unsustainable, and the event began charging an entrance fee to cover its costs.

But in keeping with its community-driven ethos, the founders introduced the Earned Ticket Program, which allowed fans to earn their ticket through volunteering. This included creating hygiene packets for the homeless and participating in the NYC Parks Tree Census.

Not only was this a means to gain access to the festival, but was also key in getting young black people involved in community activism, and likewise giving prominence to the Afropunk movement.

Beyond the music, the festival also includes what is known as Activism Row, where social justice organisations associated with the Black Lives Matter movement showcase literature and more.


Although dedicated to highlighting racial injustices in today's society, Afropunk is also a celebration of black culture, displaying images as simple but powerful as "Afro of the Day" across its website and social media channels. It can be something as seemingly trivial as this, as well as the links to new music and art, that allow someone to shelter from the harsh wind of reality. 

All this comes together to provide a safe space for black people who feel out of place, overlooked and under-represented in everyday life. Somewhere where a sense of belonging is inherent; a place where difference and diversity are celebrated and encouraged. 

Just ask Nathan Leigh, one of the site's music editors, why he joined the organisation: "The community is the blood of what we do. The Afropunk festival in Brooklyn and in Atlanta and in London and in Paris is really just a celebration of the community."

This is what drives the Afropunk philosophy, and is what makes it more important and pertinent today than ever before. 


AFROPUNK FEST London will take place on 22-23 July 2017. Find out more on our guide, and book your tickets and packages here.

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