Joshua Gunn is a Durham native, an award winning artist, business owner, festival founder and community advocate and Defacto global ambassador for the Bull City.
Joshua Gunn, a fourth generation Durhamite, has deep ties to the city of Durham. Gunn’s great-grandfather moved to Durham near the turn of the 20th century, only one-generation removed from slavery, in search of greater economic opportunity and a more inclusive cultural environment. Joshua’s family has remained in Durham since then, and has lived through several phases of the cities growth and development, all the while clinging to the ideals that initially attracted their ancestors to the city many decades prior. It is with this spirit that Joshua Gunn was raised, and this commitment to helping Durham become the best version of itself that has driven Gunn since a very young age.
Joshua attended Pearsontown Elementary, Rogers-Herr, Githens Middle and Jordan High School, eventually attending and graduating from N.C. A&T State University in 2008. Gunn began creating music as early as his Pearsontown days, finding both refuge and pride through Hip Hop music. Gunn’s successful music career spans two decades and includes three international tours, several critically acclaimed albums, film scores and a starring role in national television series’ for BET. J.Gunn, as he is affectionately known, has been one of Durham’s most vocal supporters his entire career both locally and on the global stage.
After living in the Northeast and west-cost, J.Gunn moved back to Durham to be closer to family, and quickly noticed a city much different than the place of his childhood. Gunn immediately renewed his commitment to his community, becoming involved in organizing for those most vulnerable in our city. Along with four of his friends, Gunn founded the Black August in the Park festival, in 2014 to help ensure safe spaces for Black Citizens in Durham to celebrate their culture and connect with social justice resources. Black August in the Park welcomed 8,000 attendees in Durham Central Park in 2018, and expects to continue to grow beyond 10,000 attendees this year. J.Gunn is also co-owner of Provident1898, an inclusive Co-Working community housed in the historic home of NC Mutual Life Insurance, designed to honor the legacy of Black Entrepreneurship and collaboration between communities that made Durham famous all around the world. J.Gunn also serves on the Board of Directors for the Durham Public Schools foundation, the NC Center for NonProfits, the Durham Museum of History and is Vice President at the Durham Chamber of Commerce.
As a member of Durham’s City Council, Joshua Gunn intends to lead Durham forward towards the goal of realizing the ideals that attracted so many like his great-grandfather to this incredible city. J.Gunn will address glaring disparities in our economic development strategy, by focusing on equitable and inclusive economic policies to generate jobs and ensure that Durham’s growth can benefit all of Durham’s citizens. Gunn will continue his commitment to Durham’s Public School system, to ensure we strengthen connections between our business community and our youth, ensuring that as we attract opportunities to Durham, that our youth are prepared to embrace them. Gunn will commit to eliminating the barriers for opportunity that impact our citizens of color, specifically our black and Latinx communities, while also committing to creating safe neighborhoods throughout our city. As a councilman, J.Gunn will also renew local government’s focus on doing the business of our city, by moving beyond the “buzz words” and addressing issues like infrastructure, transit and workforce development with real, practical solutions. Moving beyond the overemphasis on Downtown, J.Gunn’s vision spans all of our city, and believes that no matter where in Durham we choose to live, that we all deserve a high quality of life. Gunn will work diligently to end the ideological and generational divides that exists in Durham today, and seek to unite our citizens on a common goal of creating a Durham that works for everyone. Joshua Gunn believes that prosperity and equity can coexist in Durham, and that we can all work together to become the best version of ourselves.