Hip Hop & Higher Education III: HBCUs


*Hip Hop & Higher Education II*

Historically Black Colleges and Universities or HBCUs were established after the American Civil War prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans. With the exception of a few that were established prior to the war all HBCUs are located in former slaves states with Shaw University being the first such institution after the war. HBCUs have given our young people an educational opportunities that they would probably not have gotten anywhere else. Some universities require lower GPAs and test scores to meet students where they are in the educational gap that has plagued the black community for years. It is now the late 70’s, enter Hip Hop Culture. By this time HBCUs are graduating Black Americans at the same rate as their predominantly white counterparts and continued to be established all through the country. Hip Hop Culture is being cultivated on HBCU campuses throughout the nation unifying the culture allowing the south to intermingle with the North as did the East and the West all the while giving a bridge to the Midwest. Some Rappers have attended HBCUs and those that haven’t probably had experiences there ranging from attending a party to performing at a homecoming concert.

I’m curious about Hip Hop’s relationship with HBCUs. It seems to me that all mainstream Rappers want to do is perform the homecoming circuit and charge the institutions crazy money for a few minutes on stage. Whose fault is it that Hip Hop Culture isn’t embraced on campus? The culture bleeds through the yard and the administration seems to be more apprehensive about accepting the culture than white America did when Rap music first began to take shape. There is so much to speculate on from both sides. If HBCUs do embrace Hip Hop Culture on a curriculum basis what would a person with a BA in Hip Hop do for a living? Do we have the resources to develop such a program? Will we receive negative image that is associated with Rap music? I’m sure there are other issues. Honestly HBCUs it’s partially your fault because you should’ve began documenting Hip Hop Culture years ago.

I believe that some white Americans (those in a position to do so) are trying to learn and understand Hip Hop Culture only to eventually wipeout Black Americans from the history of the genre as they did language from the Egyptians. Yes, eventually taking over and having Hip Hop Culture only be associated white mainstream America. For whatever reason HBCUs continue to overlook us, their own people. My main concern is basically why mainstream Rappers don’t promote education? All they have to do is mention the name of a particular school and people would be online finding out more information. I feel like I’m saying all this and nobody’s listening because we know why they don’t want to promote education to the black community. If HBCUs had a Hip Hop program of sorts I’m sure we could educate another person in the community that may not have ever thought that they’d be attending college. 

HBCUs have to give this serious thought and it deserves just that. Rappers need to do more with these institutions so that they can continue to thrive financially and possibly rival the top predominantly white college. These schools being supported by state funds mean that they see budget cuts quicker than the other universities. That’s why Rappers need to give back to these schools and put them in the spotlight. The wack ‘Hip Hop media’ needs to promote the positive things that artists do. People need to know that these people are genuinely concerned about their community or at least one like it. Show us that you’re still in tune with the infinite. There is a lot of red tape surrounding this issue so I am unable to come to a concrete conclusion I just want everyone to take responsibility for their role in the tumultuous relationship between Hip Hop and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

As a graduate of a Historically Black College and University I know the influence Hip Hop Culture had on my experience. As society continues to try and keep Black Americans in a hole HBCUs face more stringent standards than other institutions. Some even face the realization that they may have to close their doors because they can’t afford to stay open. I would hope that my beloved alma mater would never have to worry about something like that. Besides a lot of Hip Hop songs use drum lines from various HBCUs!


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