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OCM BOCES Cortlandville students learn history through rap


OCM BOCES students learn history through rap

Fri., March 15, 2024

Students at OCM BOCES got a history lesson Thursday in the form of rap music to celebrate the innovations and achievements made by people who are Black, Latino, Asian and Pacific Islander. 

Nigel “Tutt” Tutt and Damon “DJ Dash” Wilson fired up the room with a unique energy and enthusiasm on behalf of their company, SchoolYard Rap. 
The Black-owned business, formed in 2015, partners with schools and educational institutions throughout the United States to create educational content and curriculum through the lens of history.

“We’ve both been a part of the company for a few years now and our CEO, Brandon Brown, who goes by Griot B, wrote and produced everything,” Tutt said. 

Students danced to Griot B’s songs that celebrate the identities, milestones, inventions and accomplishments of racial minorities. Titles included “Black Made That,” “I’m Black,” and “She Made That.”

The duo also had students repeat a self-affirmation: “I am amazing. I am intelligent. I am beautiful. I am smart. I am worthy.”

“A lot of kids who are coming to hear the information and history that we’re teaching, they’re not hearing about themselves often,” Tutt said. “We help them understand they are worthy—their history, their culture, who they are as human beings.”

Teachers were called to the stage and joined in the fun by dancing to ‘80s and ‘90s-era party songs like “The Electric Slide.”

OCM BOCES Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Support Services Doreen Bergman helped bring SchoolYard Rap to the Cortlandville Campus and other OCM BOCES school districts through the Arts in Education program. 

Bergman heard about the group through her connections with the Rochester-based Anti-Racism Curriculum Coalition. 

“This is really about opening up the knowledge that all history is our history—especially the United States,” she said. “We’re a multicultural country and we need to learn, respect and celebrate everybody’s differences as well as the things that bring us together.”
If there’s one key takeaway Bergman wants students to know, it’s to be proud of who they are. 

“Everybody should be able to bring their authentic selves through the doors of the school rooms.”