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Hip Hop History and Culture Class at MCPS

Hip Hop History Class - Bulletin Thumbnail.png

In 2019, a Hip Hop History and Culture class was offered to high school students for the first time in MCPS at Montgomery Blair High School. The class, now also offered at Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Rockville high schools, aims to teach students about the cultural and social influence of hip-hop, combining history, sociology and social commentary. Students learn about its impact on politics, psychology and have moved into areas like mental health.

“We wrote the proposal in 2018. While I planted the seeds for the class, a team of teachers and also students were involved in the process as well,” said teacher Kenneth Smith. 

Smith was recently recognized at the Montgomery County Council’s Black History Month, African Americans and the Arts, celebration for his contributions in developing the course believed to be the first of its kind in the region.

“I'm very specific about the title because it was inspired by the museum in downtown Washington D.C., the African-American Museum of History and Culture," said Smith. “I think that's important because this is not a music class even though we listen to music.”

The elements of hip hop came together in the Bronx borough of New York City in the 1970s. Decades later, hip hop has grown into one of the world’s most prominent musical genres and cultural influences. 

The class remains popular among students who have expressed appreciation for the opportunity to take a course that explores this part of American history. 

“It gives students a more open view and new views compared to the other core classes that we are taking,” said Rockville student Amira. “These are classes that go outside of the bounds of our regular history classes.”