The Black List: Adrinda “Drin” Kelly


The “Black List” highlights BE NOLA staff, board members and partners sharing various, random things that they’re currently into and inspired by. Reflecting all creative mediums, this series aims to serve as inspiration as we navigate Black education in New Orleans with a culturally responsive eye.

While she is known to many as the Executive Director of Black Education for New Orleans (BE NOLA), Adrinda “Drin” Kelly is a native New Orleanian and proud New Orleans Public Schools graduate with a knack for mission building. As a former education editor she is attuned to the importance of seeking out the narratives of Black educators and students in order to get to better outcomes. Her time as a managing director of diversity, equity and inclusiveness strategy makes her an eager connector of Black communities across lines of difference. In this role Drin is bringing the creative flair of highlighting organizations, schools, institutions and individuals who are making a difference in the lives of Black families in her hometown. She holds various muses for her creative palette. From poignant interviews with Black women authors to visual art, see Drin’s list of favorite things below:

Toni Morrison and Charlie Rose Interview

Toni Morrison’s reflection on her decision to write for Black people – to make sure the white gaze is not the dominant one in any of her books – is one of many ways of being “unapologetically Black” that inspire me in my own journey. Watch a clip below.

Bob Marley: “War”

One of my top 3 favorite songs of all time is Bob Marley’s recording of Haile Selassie’s famous address to the UN. I listen to it at least once a day.

Students at the Center

I was in one of the first classes of Students at the Center (SAC), an independent New Orleans-based writing program that operated in New Orleans Public Schools since 1996. SAC is where I stopped being schooled and began to be educated – it is my mental model for what a culturally-responsive pedagogy for Black children in New Orleans looks like. The philosophy undergirding SAC’s approach continues to guide me today: Start with what you know to learn what you don’t know. Start with where you’re at to get where you want to go.


On to New Orleans! by Albert Thrasher

On to New Orleans! introduced me to the history of Louisiana’s 1811 Slave Revolt. Studying this rebellion and the silences that surround histories of resistance by enslaved people more generally, has helped me think more deeply about the connections between liberation, narrative and power.


When I need a mental break, you can find me on Twitter. On days when the world is awful, I especially love looking at posts from Nature is Amazing.

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Psalm 90

I’ve been making my way through a study of the Psalms for the last couple of years. This prayer of Moses is one of my favorites because it reminds me of how precious and fleeting life is and makes me want to live every day with intention and purpose.


An African City

I love this web series – to call it the African version of Sex in the City doesn’t do it justice at all! Yes – it’s got great fashion – but the thing I love most is getting to see a side of life in Accra, Ghana that is so different from the poverty porn we so often see in media portrayals of the continent – this is Africa, too!


Randell Henry’s Art

Randell Henry is a Louisiana-based artist whose work I was first introduced to at the Stella Jones Art Gallery in New Orleans. I love his use of mixed media and the way he plays with proportion, shape, and sequence. The African influences are obvious, and there is a musicality to his work that reminds me of the way jazz musicians riff and improvise.

Man Holding On To A Dream

Man Holding On To A Dream

Three Men with a Bird

Three Men with a Bird

Yellow Face

Yellow Face

Nina Simone: Ain’t Got No, I Got Life (Live in London)

This live performance of Nina Simone takes my breath away. I love its affirmation of life.

Adrinda Kelly