UR Liberal Arts Professor Erik Nielson To Be Honored Next Month at Hugh M. Hefner Foundation's First Amendment Awards

Nielson Honored for His Latest Book, 'Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics, and Guilt in America'
September 30, 2020

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Erik Nielson, associate professor of liberal arts in the University of Richmond’s School of Professional & Continuing Studies, has been selected as a 2020 honoree for the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards.

Hugh M. Hefner FoundationHosted annually by the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation, the First Amendment Awards recognize individuals who have taken outstanding action to protect and enhance First Amendment rights.

Nielson and co-author Andrea Dennis were selected for their book, Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics, and Guilt in America, an in-depth look at the misuse of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal trials.  

“While most of us can agree on the importance of the First Amendment, our work seeks to expose the ways in which it is unevenly applied, particularly when it comes to young hip hop artists,” said Nielson. “I am grateful to the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation for seeing the importance in that work and acknowledging it with this award.”

Nielson, who has taught at the University of Richmond since 2011, researches hip hop culture and African American literature. His expertise centers on the intersection of rap music and the law.

He and Dennis are among eight selected by independent judges to be honored at a virtual awards ceremony on October 19.