Joycelyn Wilson

Joycelyn Wilson

Independent Scholar

104 Mount Auburn Street, 3R, Cambridge MA 02138


Joycelyn A. Wilson is an educational anthropologist and qualitative research methodologist. Her most recent appointment was at Morehouse College as a Scholar of Hip-Hop Studies in the African American Studies program. She is the founder of The Lead Network, Inc., and directs its flagship program, The HipHop2020 Curriculum Project ( Dr. Wilson began her career as a high school Algebra teacher, and has since made the world her classroom as a journalist, professor, and documentary film producer. She is a link between the civil rights, the post-civil rights hip-hop generation, and the millennium hip-pop generation. Her mission is to empower the next generation of leaders to be authentic leaders – leaders who “keep it real.” She has produced and moderated one-on-one conversation series with artists such as Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, Lupe Fiasco, and Clifford “TI” Harris, Jr. Dr. Wilson is the lead blogger for the 30 DAYS OF...DAILY DOSE OF REALNESS series (, and an Emmy-nominated documentary film producer. Her greatest achievement to date is working with former UN Ambassador Andrew Young on his Emmy-winning documentary film Andrew Young Presents Walking With Guns. She's written for market-leading publications such as XXL, FADER, The SOURCE, and wax poetics. She has contributed commentary to,, and the BET Networks' My Mic Sounds Nice: A Truth About Women in Hip-Hop. Dr. Wilson has worked in Africa (Abuja, Nigeria and Arusha, Tanzania), Italy (Rome) and throughout the United States, and has spoken to audiences at the University of Georgia, the National Black MBA, and the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. She has consulted with Clark-Atlanta University, the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs, the Atlanta Public Schools, and the Jane Fonda Center at Emory University School of Medicine. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia (Social Foundations of Education); her MA from Pepperdine University (Curriculum & Instruction) and a BS from the University of Georgia (Mathematics).

Project Description

The Miseducation of Hip-Hop: Cross-Generational Methodologies for Gaining Clearer Interpretations of the Leadership Language of the Post-Civil Rights/Millennium Generation

For some scholars, critics, and political pundits the word hip-hop should not be used in the same sentence as civil rights, let alone leadership, unless it is to argue that hip-hop culture promotes the abandonment of the elder perspectives of the civil rights struggle and the destruction of the values upon which America’s leadership institutions rest. My specific concerns rest in using a hip-hop-centered social science research methodology to understand the language of leadership and the nonviolent social change/civil rights discourses that exist in the generational narratives of the modern civil rights movement and the post-civil rights/hip-hop movement.

My position is that this methodology can be used as a contemporary framework for teaching pre-college and college-age youth about the civil rights movement and the leadership principles of the civil rights movement that are necessary to the 21st century. First, this scholastic endeavor will significantly contribute to new ways of intersecting cross-generational narratives with theory and methodology in order to generate perspectives that I believe have been overlooked about the African American civil rights leadership tradition. There is also an opportunity to examine the ways in which the hip-hop generation recognizes (and critiques) the perspective of the elder civil rights generation and the movement they stood for. Third, this humanistic study can provide insight to the strategies necessary to confront current challenges of poverty, abandonment, identity, community isolation, and other outgrowths of racially-charged policy reform. All of these issues are cross-generational, and described in the nonfiction, speeches, and lyrics of public intellectuals from the civil rights, post-civil rights, and millennium generation.

The point of this project is to continue explorations of civil rights narratives and “languages of leadership” in a cross-generational fashion. Conducting my research with the Hip Hop Archives at the WEB DuBois Institute will provide opportunities to tap into these new perspectives. It will also offer institutional partnerships, archival collaborations, and innovative programming framed around teaching, research, and outreach

responsibilities. Understanding the civil rights perspective of the post-civil rights/hip-hop movement is key to understanding the impact and legacy of the modern civil rights movement, as well as the future development of the African American civil rights tradition. My background in qualitative research methodology and training as an educational anthropologist in African American studies offers opportunities to pull from theoretical and methodological perspectives that can enhance the teaching and research agenda of the Hip Hop Archives at the W. E. B Du Bois Institute.

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