Bettina Love, an assistant professor in the University of Georgia College of Education, has been awarded a fellowship to the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute at Harvard University, the leading institute of African-American studies in the country.
Love, whose research and teaching experience brings hip-hop culture into lessons for elementary-age children, will use the one-semester appointment to create a multimedia civics curriculum for older students using stories from contemporary activists and their views on how hip-hop influenced their own education in social change.
"Traditionally, civics lessons are about voting, and how we get kids thinking about democracy," she said. "But a lot of what's going on right now, the reality of youth—with Michael Brown, Eric Gardner and hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter—I wanted to create a civics education that really looks at how hip-hop responds to this. How hip-hop helps kids respond to everyday traumas, and how it gives them a place to vent and escape."
Past fellows at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, which is directed by Henry Louis Gates, include major figures in the field such as Cornel West and Nell Irvin Painter.
Love has been awarded the Nasir Jones Hiphop Fellowship, named in honor of rap artist Nas, which funds "scholars and artists who demonstrate exceptional productive scholarship and exceptional creative ability in the arts, in connection with hip-hop," according to the institute. But the connection with Nas also hits Love on a personal level.
"We listened to Nas every day when I was growing up. Nas gave us a worldview. He gave us inspiration," she said. "I'm one of his biggest fans, so to go to Harvard and be named the Nasir Jones fellow, I'm humbled and overjoyed by it."
Craig H. Kennedy, dean of the College of Education, said the fellowship emphasizes the groundbreaking research by Love, who uses hip-hop as a vehicle for delivering instruction to students.
"We are excited for Bettina and this wonderful opportunity that the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute has awarded her," said Kennedy. "Her work is worthy of national recognition, and this fellowship gives her the platform to take it to the next level and beyond."
Love's book, "Hip Hop's Li'l Sistas Speak," was published in 2012. In 2014 she was named an inaugural winner of the Michael F. Adams Early Career Scholar Award.