Blog Entry Narrative Change, Education, Youth Development

Meet the Black Male Educator Using Hip-Hop Literacy to Engage Students and the Community

In the second installment of the "Black Male Educators Speak" video series, we met Detroit educator Quan Neloms (who is also one of CBMA's inaugural Building Beloved Community Leadership Fellows) as he uses Hip Hop as a tool to engage and inspire his students at Detroit's Frederick Douglass Academy for Young Men. Now, read Neloms' reflections on what drives him to do this work and the results he's seen thus far.

I began teaching at 22.

Back in my hometown of Detroit and fresh out of college, I thought I had all the answers. I believed students would instantly relate to me because of my knowledge, enthusiasm and youth.

Ha!

I soon learned that before I could effectively teach anything, I needed to better understand my students. Especially with my Black male students, I needed to find methods for engaging and sharing information at their level.

ENGAGING YOUTH WITH HIP-HOP LITERACY

So seven years ago I started Lyricist Society, a program that engages young people by using hip-hop in the classroom.

Students don’t simply listen to the lyrics. They are encouraged to think creatively and analyze the genius behind an art form created by individuals who are a reflection of them and their communities.

The subjects and vocabulary utilized in hip-hop are tools that engage students in higher-level thinking. And seeing their own interests touted as brilliant and scholarly leads them to see themselves in the same light.


Using hip-hop in the classroom provides my students a platform for learning to conduct research and create their own works. But it has also let them take ownership of their learning to raise their achievement.

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