One of the things I loved the culture and curriculum at Bowie State. For Fine and Performing Arts majors, we had to take courses on the history of people of color, women, subcultures. For a creative, surrounding yourself with as many different perspectives as possible. I attended Bowie State in the early 2000s. Imagine a time when Wikipedia was brand new. Information on minority history was difficult to find anywhere on the internet.
The new Hip-Hop Minor offered at Bowie State will be a great opportunity to expand on the school’s current academic focus:
“Three new courses developed by Bowie State faculty will explore hip-hop’s roots in African and African-American culture and its societal impact, while developing projects that span multiple academic disciplines. Melchishua designed a hip-hop studio course focused on visual arts design. Renowned hip-hop scholar, musician and author Dr. William Smith created a course exploring black contemporary music and its impact on society. Helen Hayes Award-nominated playwright, director and actor Greg Morrison will teach a hip-hop theater course he developed to introduce students a unique form of musical theater.”
When I attended, professors knew their students, our goals, and dreams. Especially in Fine and Performing Arts where they’re full time professors as well as being artists in their own right. They were proud to be there. I had professors of various races and backgrounds. It’s hard to explain such a welcoming culture other than to say it’s common among HBCUs:
“In 2015, a Gallup poll was released showing students at HBCUs had a higher sense of well-being in five areas (purpose, social, financial, community, and physical) compared to students who did not attend HBCUs.”
“HBCU grads were substantially more likely to say that they had professors who cared about them and mentors who helped them pursue their goals”
The program emphasizes learning a lot of history in context. We’d learn abuut Bach, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Monet. We’d study Cab Calloway, Zora Neal Hurston, and Henry Ossawa Tanner in the same breath.
There’s whole history of minority artists that is mostly ignored in our culture. I think that’s one of the biggest things I learned. That it’s possible that I’m not going to be surrounded by images of successful people like me in popular culture and history. You still gotta go out there and do your thing.
Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.