Hip-hop Icon MC Lyte Talks about her Role as National Spox for the NNPA’s Discover The Unexpected HBCU Journalism Program

Hip-hop Icon MC Lyte Talks about her Role as National Spox for the NNPA’s Discover The Unexpected HBCU Journalism Program

By Tyvan Burns, Diamond Durant, Denver Lark (#TeamOptimistic, NNPA DTU Journalism Fellowship)

Hip-hop pioneer MC Lyte is the national spokesperson for the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s (NNPA) Discover The Unexpected (DTU) Journalism Fellowship program.

Her passion about education and her desire to create opportunities for HBCU students are two of the many reasons she partnered with the NNPA and Chevrolet, the program’s sponsor.

As she continues her great acts of philanthropy, MC Lyte said that music and journalism are much alike, as they are both used to tell stories.

MC Lyte became great friends with Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the NNPA, through his work in hip-hop and civil rights.

When she got the call about the NNPA’s DTU program, she said that she was happy to help out; she said that representing the DTU program is a great fit.

When it comes to her philanthropic work that grew out of her music career, MC Lyte said that she always wanted to give back. That sense of altruism manifested early on in her music career with her hit single “I Cram to Understand U,” which included a strong anti-drug message, geared towards the Black community.

MC Lyte made it her responsibility to advocate for young people and to shed light on the deluge of heroin and crack cocaine that flooded her Brooklyn neighborhood in the 70’s and 80’s.

“I don’t think that I really do anything for me, per se,” MC Lyte said. “It’s about getting out there, [using] the MC Lyte name, to form partnerships with bigger entities and to gain access to resources and sharing those resources with the people who need them the most.”

Hip-hop pioneers like Salt-N-Pepa and Rakim inspired MC Lyte to partake in the music industry at such an early age. MC Lyte also vividly remembered how the Bronx-born, hip-hop group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five helped to shape her storytelling rap style.

MC Lyte said that “The Message,” the Furious Five classic featuring Melly Mel, painted a picture of life in the Bronx that was very different from her life in Brooklyn, where she was born and raised. “The Message” influenced MC Lyte to gravitate towards the storytelling aspect of hip-hop. MC Lyte described “Lyte as a Rock,” her first album, as “a book of poems and short stories.”

“It was easy to get into a [creative] space and just write,” MC Lyte said. “My mother made me write an essay for whatever I wanted to do.”

MC Lyte said that young artists, who are pursuing careers in the entertainment business, should educate themselves about royalties, build a trustworthy team and seek legal advice when necessary.

“Never sign anything without counsel and always sign your own checks,” MC Lyte advised.

Reminiscing about her career in the music industry, if given the opportunity to change or do anything different, MC Lyte said that she would have said “yes” more often and been more open to trying new music genres and collaborating with unexpected artists.”

Although, MC Lyte is often credited as a pioneer in hip-hop culture, her passion to ignite change on a greater scale was alive from the very beginning. She was one of the first female rappers to speak out against sexism and misogyny in the industry. Her voice shook up the male-dominated hip-hop scene and helped pave the way for female MC’s that followed in her footsteps, like Queen Latifah and Missy Elliott.

Tyvan Burns (Norfolk State University), Diamond Durant (Morgan State University) and Denver Lark (North Carolina A&T University) are 2018 Discover The Unexpected Journalism Fellows representing #TeamOptimistic. Check out more stories by #TeamOptimistic at nnpa.org/dtu.

Four schools selected for P-Tech grant program

Four schools selected for P-Tech grant program

DALLAS —  L. G. Pinkston, Seagoville, South Oak Cliff and Wilmer-Hutchins high schools have been preliminarily selected to receive a grant for the 2018–2020 Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) Success Grant program.

“Dallas ISD, Dallas County Community College District, University of North Texas Dallas and 63 industry partners are committed to working collaboratively to ensure that students graduate with workplace skills which will provide a clear pathway from high school to college to career,” said Israel Cordero, Dallas ISD Deputy Superintendent of Academic Improvement and Accountability. “The receipt of the P-TECH Success Grants further enhances educational opportunities for our students.”

A total of 14 schools in Texas have been preliminarily selected to receive the grant from the Texas Education Agency. The purpose of the 2018–2020 P-TECH Success Grant Program is to solicit grant applications from eligible applicants who will spend 28 months strengthening and refining current practices that will advance their existing P-TECH campus to distinguished levels of performance, as measured by the P-TECH Blueprint.

“Campuses will utilize funds from the P-TECH Success grants to enrich the curriculum and reinforce workplace learning skills,” said Usamah Rodgers, Dallas ISD Assistant Superintendent of Strategic Initiatives and External Relations.

Dallas ISD’s 18 P-TECHs offer students a chance to earn up to 60 college hours or an associate degree as they earn their high school diplomas. Learn more here.

Foster Elementary families receive help during time of need

Foster Elementary families receive help during time of need

DALLAS— Clothes, food and household essentials provided by Buckner International fill a normally empty room at Stephen Foster Elementary School.

The room was twice as full earlier this week, but students and families have steadily taken and used these essentials while their homes remain without gas or water due to the recent gas leaks in the area. And while it’s otherwise been business as usual at Foster Elementary thanks to tanks of natural gas provided by Atmos Energy, the donated items have been crucial for the school’s families.

“The students and their families obviously didn’t expect to have their gas shut off, so they’ve been very thankful to have any kind of support during this time,” said Buckner International Director Candace Gray.

Gray said the organization immediately reached out to Foster Elementary after the gas leaks in the area. Many of the clothes and supplies come from the non-profit’s Humanitarian Aid Center. Also, Buckner International has used their mobile laundry unit to wash clothes for the students and their families.

“We are very thankful to Buckner International for the support they have given our families during this time,” said Foster Elementary counselor DeLauren Kruzel. “Having access to household essentials and clean clothes gives our families a much greater piece of mind.”