On Super Bowl Sunday of 2019, Hannah Drake, who had long written about politics, feminism and race, reached a new level of fame when film director and producer Ava DuVernay, to protest the NFL’s treatment of quarterback-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick, tweeted out a video of Hannah’s poem “All You Had to Do Was Play the Game, Boy.” Kaepernick in turn shared the poem with his followers, and in short order Hannah’s words reached 2.4 million viewers.
Hannah has only continued turning up the volume on her art and activism since, especially in the last year when after the murder of Breonna Taylor she stood and spoke on the frontlines of protests against police brutality in her hometown of Louisville, KY. She has collaborated with the Louisville Ballet and the Actors Theatre of Louisville on new projects and continues to offer up provocative commentary on her widely read blog, “Write Some S#it.”
Hannah is also the chief creative officer of IDEAS xLab, an artist-run nonprofit based in Louisville, KY that champions inclusion and belonging through creativity, art, and action. Inspired by a trip she made with her daughter three years ago to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, AL, Hannah — along with IDEAS xLab’s co-founder and CEO, Josh Miller — devised The (Un)known Project. The (Un)known Project is a multi-year series of public art installations and educational experiences designed to bring to civic and national consciousness the Black men, women and children in Louisville’s past who have been overlooked in history.
In this interview with Rob Kramer and Pier Carlo Talenti, conducted just a few days before the first portion of the (Un)Known Project was to be unveiled on the banks of the Ohio River, Hannah celebrates the power of art to instigate powerful social change and explains why she pushes through discomfort and fear to stand up for her art and her community.