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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Case For Economic Activism: No Black Friday spending is just the start. How about a complete anti-commercial holiday season? #HandsUpDontSpend #BlackOutBlackFriday

America has had a rude awakening. The masses now understand that we are far from being a “post racial” society. What has been revealed are the racial assumptions and socioeconomic judgments floating just beneath the surface of our conversations, confrontations and political decisions. Across the country in living rooms, barbershops and pubs people are talking. African Americans are restless and seeking ways to resist in response to injustice. So, what do we do? We will march, we will lend our time and talents to community efforts, but we must also TAKE! Take back our dollars and kick the system where it hurts – in their economic bottom line. No Black Friday spending is just the start. How about a complete anti-commercial holiday season? Make gifts and find volunteer opportunities for your family. Save your money, but give of yourselves to your community. 

Why Boycott Retail?
I'm no economist, but I know the words of W.E.B. Dubois to be true, "To whom you give your money, you give your power." Nielsen research has assessed that there are 44 million African-Americans living in the United States, which is 14.2% of the entire U.S. population, the second largest racial minority in the country. The median age is 32 and 47 percent are under 35 years of age. The demographic is younger; more educated and has higher incomes than commonly believed. With an estimated buying power of nearly $1 trillion annually, if African-Americans were a country, we would be the 16th largest country in the world. YET, we disproportionately own fewer of our homes, save less, invest less and spend less with small businesses in our community when compared to other racial groups. According to Ken Smikle of Target Market News, "The largest single investment that Corporate America makes in the Black community is in advertising. That investment is about $2 billion a year, but it should be at least twice that amount given the importance of the market and the role these consumers play in any company's bottom line." Refrain from holiday spending to make a collective statement. The United States economy cannot rely on our hard earned dollars while the justice system undermines the value of black life. When you mess with people’s money, they tend to start listening. 

In a few days friends and family will gather around tables, shared delicious meals and gave thanks for all the good in our lives. This year we should be grateful just to be alive! Exactly 24 hours later gratitude will give way to "getititude" as scores of shoppers swarm and scramble to grab bargains on Black Friday. Resist the norm. Do the opposite of what is expected. Invest in yourself! In addition to economic activism there is value to dialing back holiday spending, especially for families with young children.

Celebrate The Joy Of Giving
BE THE GIFT! Hopefully as adults we've learned the joy of giving, as well as receiving. Plan activities that teach your little ones that sentiment. It's important for them to realize that other boys and girls may be going without. Find a local toy drive, group home, or church collecting items for the less fortunate. Donate toys, books and clothing that can be a blessing to those who desperately need a bit of holiday cheer. If finances are tight give your time. Join a group that sings carols at nursing homes or spend an afternoon volunteering at a local shelter. 

Create Family Traditions Together
Fellowship, family, laughter and love - these are life's most special gifts. Make the season mean so much more by creating traditions with your children. Craft homemade ornaments or cards, bake cookies for your neighbors, attend a performance of the Nutcracker, see a holiday concert, go ice skating, host a Christmas Eve potluck, etc. Give your family something to look forward to each year that's invaluable, immaterial and doesn't require batteries.

Teach The Reason For The Season
Focus on your faith. Why and what do you believe? As busy adults we sometimes take for granted the spiritual lessons imparted by our elders. Teach your children the essence of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Make it fun! Take part of special activities in your place of worship. Pick out a couple of new books. Put on a play or puppet show to perform for loved ones visiting from out of state. Although Santa has become a prominent figure, remind your children the star atop your tree does not shine in celebration of dear old St. Nick.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day 2014! Special Edition with Real Dad Submissions


Today we celebrate the fathers, father figures and special men in our lives. The guys who seem like giants when we're little - all big hands and broad shoulders. The fellows who learn how to balance horseplay, straight talk and tenderness as we grow. Whether soft spoken, slick talking or the strong, silent type, Dads are there to encourage and teach the wisdom we'll need to be our best. Far too often dedicated dads get the short end of the stick. If moms are seen as martyrs, applauded for the merits of the best among us; active, engaged and loving fathers are often overlooked, and lumped in with the guys who have created a life, but have never been around to nurture or protect it. 

I am thankful for a father who is my kindred spirit. He's a spiritually centered, music-loving romantic.  A student of metaphysics, bohemian bookworm and eloquent charmer. My Daddy has always been there for me. When I'm at my worst, a call from him whips me right back into shape and provides the perspective I need to keep on keeping on. 

On November 27, 2010 he gave me away to my husband, Marvin. Not only my lover and friend, Marvin is an amazingly kind and compassionate father to our two children. They love him to pieces and fatherhood has undoubtedly made him a better man. I also salute the men in my extended family; my uncles, grandfathers and family friends that offer an immeasurable amount of love and guidance - not only as father figures to me, but to my kids as well. 
We Love You All!

Once again this year, in honor of Father's Day, I have invited men to write about their experiences and how their children have impacted their lives. I hope to continue working with fathers as guest bloggers, so Dads, if what you read in this post inspires you to pen something of your own please send it to 

Rob Griggs (34 years old. Cancer LOL) Chicago, IL

Business Consultant, President and Founder of For Husbands Only (@ForHusbandsOnly,

Married  (5 Years) with 2 year old Triplets.

Best Part of Being a Dad: 
The best part is the positive influence that I’m having on a person’s life.  When I see my kids sing a song I taught them or play a game that we learned together, it makes me feel proud.  Also, there’s no greater feeling then when you hit the door and your kids run to you and let you know they missed you.

The Frustrating Part: 
The toughest part about being a Dad is that people are shocked that a man knows how to take care of his kids. Or that we know intimate details about our children. This should not be a surprise. A lot of times I feel like I’m proving that I know my kids to people when I really shouldn’t have to.

What Have I Learned
I’ve learned that you are stronger than you think. When you have a child and they need something, you don’t think about how tired you are, or what you need or what you have to do…you just take care of their needs.  Before we moved to our current home, my wife and I lived on the 3rd floor. Our washing machine was broken and we used my parents’. I would carry the 3 babies up and down the stairs, with 3-4 loads of clothes and never thought twice about it. It was just what we had to do. Could I do that now?!? Probably not…because I no longer have to.

I strive to be a Father that is involved in my kids’ lives. I want to know my kids’ favorite cartoon character, their friends, and their favorite TV shows. But I don’t want to be their friend. They’ll have enough of those…but they’ll only have one Father. Hopefully, my kids can talk to me about those things that scare them or confuse so I can give them solid advice.  But I’m a very involved father now. I’m pretty good at anticipating my children’s needs. And I learned very early, each kid is different and must be treated differently. That takes more work, but it’s definitely more effective.

Here’s a pic of me and the chipmunks. This is about a year old, but it’s one of my favorites.

My kids, if they could talk, would describe me as a fun Dad, who’s fair, but understanding. They know I will answer any question and take the time necessary to address their concerns or fears.

Anthony L Davis, 35
Real estate agent and investor with Zion Capital Investments, LLC. My goal is to renovate properties for resale and rent, allowing me the time and resources to be a blessing to my family, church and community. In addition to my role as leader of our church youth group, I serve on a community improvement board, enjoy international travel and attending various sport events. 

Family description: 
 I am married to my wonderful wife, Alisa and we have two beautiful children, Jonathan (7) and Alana (20 months). 

Best part of being a Dad: 
The best part of being a dad is the love generated from my children, particularly seeing the absence of fathers active in our communities. There is a genuine sense that they not only want me around, but that they need me in their lives. 

Most scary, surprising, difficult, frustrating part: 
The scariest part of being a dad is the fact of having children in an increasingly dangerous and treacherous world and the fact that I cannot completely shield them from perils out of my control or beyond my supervision. The most surprising part of being a dad is that I don’t get nearly as grossed out with my kids bodily fluids as I thought I would before becoming a parent. The most difficult thing is that although my wife and I diligently invest in raising them a certain way and contributing to their success, our children are not robots and make decisions that we often are not desirous of. That also is the most frustrating part. 

What you've learned about life, love or yourself since becoming a father?: 
Being married and a parent are the two most unselfish things I've ever experienced in life. I think that most men are pretty selfish by nature, but having others depend on your time, consistency and interaction can be a challenge at times. I've learned that life is not just about personal achievement or adventure, but building something significant with the ones you love. It may not make for the most interesting stories to share with the fellas, but it’s what’s necessary to have long-term and substantial success. Men must learn to settle down and build legacy. Being a father has expanded my patience to levels unknown and even undesired. Nevertheless, I've become a better person and my relationship with God has changed in that I see through my children how God must feel about me.

Your role in the family, how do you fit in?: 
My role in the family is that of a decisive decision-maker and spiritual priest for my household. This took time, as I needed to quickly mature at the beginning of my marriage and fatherhood to properly assume the task at hand. I strive to be everything my father was and even a few things that he wasn't. That said, my father was hard-working and a spiritual rock, but wasn't as available from an interaction standpoint as I would've liked. I want to address that deficiency in my relationship with my children. 

How would your children describe you?: 
My children would describe me as a fun, protective and kind father.

Edward Kirkland is a buddy of mine from my undergraduate days at Spelman College. He's a brilliant educator and Facebook funny guy who tickles his friends and followers with thoughtful and hilarious updates. The newlywed Morehouse man is not yet a father, but posted some jewels about his own Father. They were so entertaining and heartwarming that I had to share. 

"Because when people complain about how they grew up "without" , I can't relate.
#HFD (Happy Father's Day)
Because when you retired from work, you walked me to elementary school every day, and was there waiting when I got dismissed, every day. 

Because growing up, I never wanted for ANYTHING. Well, except that Nintendo glove thing. But I'm over it. Kinda.

Because you worked hard as hell, just so I could watch The Cosby Show and think, "oh shit, that's us."

Because all those epic whoopings we got as kids were followed up with explanations and hugs. #HFD

For all the times you handed me a little cash back in the day, followed up with a good 'ole 'don't tell your mother'."

Kevin L. Swan - 38
God loving happily married Morehouse father.  

Your life's work:  
I am a financial advisor who loves to educate.  When I started my career, I did a lot of work with educators.  Working indirectly in education, it exposed me to the need for positive man of color to come and talk with the students.  From that exposure, I volunteered in the different school systems throughout the Chicagoland area.  Tutoring in math and being involved with different mentoring programs, has allowed me to pass financial education to the students at a younger age.  Financial education is lacking in the education system, so I became JA Achievement volunteer.  I actually go into the classrooms, and teach the economics course or have financial discussion with the students.  I salute the teachers of these schools, the most underpaid/under-recognized profession. 

I love spending time with family, traveling, reading, mining, gardening, and a lot of other things.  I like to do THINGS.
Family description: 
I have been happily married for almost 11 years to Yolanda Swan (McCullough) and I thank God for my Queen.  We have a four year old son, and our second son was just born.  A great Father’s Day gift.

Best part of being a Dad: 
Seeing yourself in your children

Most scary, surprising, difficult, frustrating part: 
I was surprised at how natural the instincts came, when we had our first one. 

How becoming a parent has changed you?  
When I became a father, I instantly knew that it was not about me anymore.   If everyone could apply that as a principle in his or her life, the world would be a better place.

What kind of Father you strive to be, etc?
 A role model, because I have one.  My father is a father to so many other people.  A Great Man, if I could be a tenth of what he is, I will have done well.

How would your children describe you?
 Not from this planet

Ugo Nwokolo
My name is Ugo from the House of Nwokolo. Husband to Funmi and Father to Ronke, Kosi and Ugo. This is my 6th Father's Day. 

Here are some things I have learnt along the way.
It doesn’t matter what Daddy does at work. All they know is that he leaves and they are happy he comes back.

Each kid responds differently to your individual attention.  Especially girls. The way  my Kosi responds to me while we are alone is really different when she is fighting with her sister for my attention. 

Parenting is great but our American culture seems to make it more important than the marriage. Not good.

 After 3 kids, you almost feel like you are standing back to back with your spouse trying to manage the household. 

You need to turn and face each other.  A glowing healthy marriage is such an important lesson for your kids to see. 

The thing that I fear about is the Big mistake. I think every parent does it. 
They do or say something to their kid that sort of messes them up.

 It could be an innocuous  statement of what kind of work ethic we expect  or something said in anger that sears in their souls.  

My words and actions are so powerful to how these children grow up. 

The older my kids gets, the more I need to provide a structure that they need to model.  I am the archetype that they need to build on. 
You want neat kids. Get neat. Your kids are your mirror. Model that behavior that you want.

I am a Father.  I am not a replaceable part of my family. I am integral.  We are a big deal.  Like Larry Winget said, Our kids are our own damn fault.  They are also our own great joy. 

Rayy Horton is a 41 year old graphic designer, from New Jersey currently residing in Atlanta, GA. Rayy participated in this project last year. Today I'm sharing a loving sentiment he received from his teenage daughter. You're doing something right Rayy!


Stephen Llorens, 36

I am a writer. Mostly screenplays, but looking to get into print. My hobbies include sleeping and sitting still and not doing anything. I cherish the twenty minutes a day I get to indulge in my hobbies.

My family consists of me, my better half, and our two children Zoey and Malachi. 

The best part of being a dad is hearing my daughter refer to me as “daddy,” even though it is often followed by “can I have” or “I was thinking maybe you could” or “I’d like” or “make me some”. My son doesn't speak yet, but I love holding him in the morning while he smiles and moves and says things I don’t understand but can feel.

Nothing’s scary about it, but the most frustrating part is making judgment mistakes. Each time I've done something I wish my parents hadn't said/ done to me, I've gotten frustrated with myself.

Parenthood has changed me almost completely, and I learn more about myself every day by watching my children and witnessing my reactions to things they do.

My role in the family is the cook. I cook most of the meals. That’s probably the only thing I do that their mother doesn't (as often). I strive to be the kind of father i am: willing to change, malleable, and open.

My son would probably describe me as that guy who holds him in front of the mirror and smiles with his eyes. My daughter would describe me as the guy who makes her breakfast and lets her watch TV in his room. I would describe them as my favorite two people in the world.  Stephen and his son Malachi share the same birthday!

Wess Walters 36 
Creative Director at
A lover of life, people and all the joys wealth brings. 

Roller blading, snorkeling and quiet Wess time. 

Family description: Single dad

Best part of being a dad: 
Watching your kids grow. 

Most scary, surprising, difficult, frustrating part: So little time.

What you've learned about life, love or yourself since becoming a father? 
One word-PATIENCE 

What kind of Father you strive to be, etc?
I'm the leader and the kids are the troopers on the team.  I try to be a perfect mixture of Malcolm X, Bruce Lee, and Cliff Huxtable. I strive to be like the image of Malcolm X, with the discipline of Bruce Lee with the humor, compassion and the ability to express love like Mr. Huxtable. 

How would your children describe you? "The coolest dad ever!"
What I've learned over the year [Wess contributed in 2013 as well] is that if I chase the money, it will forever be elusive. If I chase the dream, the money and time with the kids will be automatic. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Brazil Bound! Nigel Shoyoye is headed to the 2014 FIFA World Cup as a McDonald's Team USA Player Escort #ImLovinIt

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.” Sophia Loren

Ain't that the truth. I think at least four times - once for my children, once for my husband and again for MY mother and myself. ShoMommy's mental check list kicked in at McDonald's in the Lithia Springs WalMart about a month ago. I was craving a large $1 libation to keep me cool and help me chill while I grabbed a few items from the neighborhood superstore. However, my desire for a refreshing sip of sweet tea wasn't the only thing on my mind. Printed on the cup and the receipt I saw an ad for McDonald's annual World Cup sweepstakes. Parents were encouraged to register their elementary age children for a chance to win an all expense paid trip to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Cue the proverbial light bulb.

The Shoyoye family has soccer in it's blood. My father-in-law was an incredible student athlete who secured a college futbol scholarship that brought him from Nigeria to Ohio in pursuit of higher education. That's where he met his lovely wife to be; the mother of his future children - their oldest son being my husband Marvin. 

My 7 year old Nigel played soccer for a couple years in Chicago. This summer we decided to kick it up a few notches as a family. The kids joined a brand new league in our Atlanta community, Olympic Atlanta Soccer Club. Both Nigel, and our three year old daughter Morenikke, joined age level teams. Strangely enough there weren't an overwhelming amount of soccer pros clamoring to coach the 3/4 year old squad. I volunteered to take on the job, figuring that the wee ones wouldn't catch on that we'd be learning the game together as beginners. Given my new role as Coach Sho and my son's renewed interest in the sport, I submitted an entry for the Mickey D's Player Escort contest on behalf of Nigel. Rules allowed for each parent/guardian to enter once a day for a one week period, so registering Mom and Dad boosted our chances. I told a few folks about the promotion in passing and didn't give too much thought to Nigel ACTUALLY WINNING. Fast forward to my stunned husband taking a quick call from a McDonald's rep. "Babe. We really won," he said with cautious enthusiasm. He and Nigel will soon be taking the trip of a lifetime. I'm looking forward to a lifetime of them telling the story and thanking me for being brilliant enough to enter. 

After three weeks of verifying the legitimacy of their win, the tedious process of renewing passports and requesting visas, Nigel's selection as one of 25 McDonald's Child Ambassadors and Team USA Player Escorts was official! On June 16, 2014 Nigel will escort players from the Men's US Soccer team onto the field before they face off against Ghana in Natal, Brazil. Set your DVR! At the request of the sponsors we had to keep things hush hush. Hard to do with lots of thrilled family members and an exceedingly astute first grader. Eventually we picked a date for the big reveal, May 22nd. My birthday! How fitting that on the day that I celebrate my life, my son is given an extraordinary gift. It made the day so very special for my family, and brought me an indescribable amount of pride and joy. 

We are blessed and eternally grateful! School is out for summer and Nigel ended it with authority. He was promoted to Wolf Cub through Boys Scouts of America, portrayed a munchkin in his school's presentation of The Wiz, then received a Principal's Award and Literacy Honor for finishing first grade reading at a seventh grade level. For working so hard and being such a smart, sweet boy; he deserves this magical moment! We're already planning for the trip. He'll embark on this journey with a new camera to capture his memories, and a notepad to write down his thoughts and take down email addresses for the friends he'll make on his first international excursion.

Local news media was on hand to document this unforgettable announcement. Check out the links below and share, share, share in support of my sunny boy :-D

Footage of Nigel hearing the news for the 1st time

News segment from Atlanta's WXIA NBC local station

Article from Atlanta CBS station channel 46

News Segment from Atlanta CBS 46 Sports News Now Article

TwinSportsTV: Nigel 2014 FIFA World Cup Trip Surprise sponsored by McDonald's

Nigel escorting USMNT member DaMarcus Beasley

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Motiviational Mother's Day Message

The Mommy-Morphosis mission is to celebrate motherhood 24/7/365.
For all the love, wisdom and effort it takes to raise children, we surely deserve it.
On this day especially, you "better recognize"! (In the words of my own Mommy)

I haven't blogged in a while and actually planned on skipping an obligatory post today, but the message I received at Sunday service was too good to keep to myself. The powerful, hilarious motivational speaker Les Brown electrified the congregation with his tribute to 'life's greatest treasures" - Mothers. "Mammy Brown's baby boy" often details how blessed he was to be adopted by a truly incredible woman. Despite her son being mistakenly labeled as "educably mentally retarded", Ms. Brown spoke greatness into his life with faith, love and determination.

Here's a brief recap of his message, with a little ShoMommy embellishment:
M - Mental resiliency
Motherhood isn't all roses and chocolate. It can be a tough, dirty job that requires us to be strong and brave. There are times when Moms must make a way where there's none. We face our fears and shed our tears, but always find a way to do what's best for our families.
O - Open your heart
More than ever a mother's love can be used to combat our culture of rudeness and insensitivity. Be kind because you can. It will make your children better people.
T - Take care of things that matter
Mother's help us learn what's really important in life. Let's remember (and teach) that success isn't only material. Relationships that we've built and memories we've created will carry us through the difficulties we will inevitably face. 
H - Hold a place for hope in your heart.
Hold your head high, always! Mother's help us see the light inside when everything looks dim. When life gets hard and we're disappointed or heartbroken, Mom's unconditional love reminds us that the best is yet to come.
E - Enjoy yourself!
Live, love and laugh! It's the best medicine. Have fun with your children, don't take things so seriously. Joy is invaluable to our lives; share it with those who matter most.
R - Remember what's important and forget what's not.
"Forgiveness is remembering without anger." Let go, or be dragged. Not every mother has been there when their children needed- some by choice, others by circumstance.  It's never too late to make peace, and if nothing else, give thanks for the gift of life. 

Happy Mother's Day to all Moms, Godmothers, Grandmothers, Stepmoms
and Mother figures!

I pray you feel appreciated for all that you do daily. Please take a moment to be grateful for the opportunity you have to impact the world. The wisdom, strength and encouragement you pour into the children you love will eventually overflow into our collective future.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What is Ash Wednesday? Why do we commemorate Lent with sacrifice?

"What's Ash Wednesday even about?" Why do we give up stuff for Lent?" You may have been asked these questions by your children over the last couple of days. While talking with my kids about the Easter season and it's accompanying traditions, I realized I was unclear about some of the history and religious symbolism myself. This video by is a quick and easy to use teaching tool!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hip Hop Classics That Can Revive Black History Month: 11 Songs of Freedom, Revolution, Power and Pride

In 1926 Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, announced their plan to designate the second week of February "Negro History Week." Blacks living in America, having survived the horrors of slavery and endured inhumane treatment post-emancipation, had no roots to their African homelands. Woodson contended that if Black history was not properly acknowledged America's future generations would be in tremendous jeopardy. 

"If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. The American Indian left no continuous record. He did not appreciate the value of tradition; and where is he today? The Hebrew keenly appreciated the value of tradition, as is attested by the Bible itself. In spite of worldwide persecution, therefore, he is a great factor in our civilization."

The annual month long celebration of African American history informally began in the 1960s at the urging of Kent State University's Black United Student organization and was eventually recognized by the U.S. government in 1976.  As a child I was apart of the 1980's and 90s enthusiasm that swept through elementary and high schools everywhere. African kente cloth prints inspired fashion. 
The lives of King, Parks, X, Tubman, Douglass informed special assemblies, poetry, HBCU apparel and cultural anthems. Communities celebrated pride in blackness year-round, but with extra vigor in February. But, as time has passed, the reverent regard surrounding Black History Month has diminished so drastically it calls into question it's relevance.

The need to separate African American historic achievements from that of the larger population is becoming more frequently debated. We've elected our first biracial President, a globally popular figure of African and Irish descent. The masses complain about the redundancy of slave narratives, no matter how poignantly they are told. Due to the glaring disparity in accounts of African American contributions to the construction of our nation and it's economy, I personally believe the commemoration is still very necessary. General knowledge of African American history barely skims the surface and recent events have sorely reminded us that the lives of black people, especially young men, are often valued less than their Caucasian counterparts. I am not yet convinced that we are not living in a post racial society.

What can be done to make black history month less mundane? Ideally we can use this time not only to remember our ancestry, but also to evaluate our present position and establish priorities for our collective future as African Americans. But how do you engage individuals who might not understand the gravity of connecting the here and now with days gone by? Music is always a great place to start.  

Hip hop culture has flooded mainstream America. But, with commercial appeal a sense of consciousness has been lost. There was a time when an emcee could move the crowd and inspire a movement. As a parent who enjoys rap music, I am constantly looking for opportunities to introduce kids to a side of hip hop culture that is less misogynistic and more motivational. When wordsmiths use their craft to make hip hop the poetry of our people, they can ignite our sense of personal and communal power. Using your discretion, consider the lyrical content and age of your audience, then share these songs and videos below with a new audience. Remind them that knowing where they come from and what those before them came through, can help them navigate their own journey to greatness. 

You Must Learn - KRS One and Boogie Down Productions

Teach the student what needs to be taught / 'Cause Black and White kids both take shorts

When one doesn't know about the other ones' culture / Ignorance swoops down like a vulture
KRS, an acronym for “Knowledge Reigning Supreme”, aka Teacha is the preeminent conscience emcee. From BDP’s 1989 album Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip Hop, KRS-One tries to instill in his listeners a love of African American history.

U.N.I.T.Y - Queen Latifah
U.N.I.T.Y., Love a black woman from infinity to infinity.Before becoming a Hollywood powerhouse Queen Latifah reigned supreme as a hip hop female force to be reckoned with. The single, released on January 6, 1994, spoke out against the disrespect of women in society, addressing issues of street harassment, domestic violence, and slurs against women in hip hop culture. 

I Can - Nas 
Before we came to this country / We were kings and queens, never porch monkeys
There was empires in Africa called Kush / Timbuktu, where every race came to get books
To learn from black teachers who taught Greeks and Romans
Asian, Arabs and gave them gold 
When gold was converted to money it all changed / Money then became empowerment for Europeans
One of Nas' highest charting singles to date, this ditty is definitely for the kids. Nas taps into his paternal side and drops so historical gems along the way. He encourages children to follow your dreams and recognize that they can do anything they set their minds to. 

Free - Goodie Mob
Many are blind and cannot find the truth / 'Cause no one seems to really know
But I won't accept that this is how it's gon' be / Devil, you gotta let me and my people go

Goodie Mob is a hip-hop group from Atlanta, Georgia that consisted of breakout star Cee-Lo Green and his Organized Noize brothers Khujo, T-Mo, and Big Gipp. This intro set the tone for their debut album Soul Food in 1995.

Proud To Be Black - Run DMC 
God bless the next baby that comes in this world / The world's full of hate discrimination and sin
People judgin other people by the color of skin / I'll attack this matter, in my own way

The Hollis, Queens New York trio is possibly the most influential act in the history of hip hop culture. From the 1986 Raising Hell Album, Proud To Be Black was a militant black history lesson for their legion of fans across cultures. 

Keep Your Head Up - Tupac
I remember Marvin Gaye, used to sing ta me / He had me feelin like black was tha thing to be
And suddenly tha ghetto didn't seem so tough / And though we had it rough, we always had enough

Tupac's legacy lives on in his lyrics laced with outspoken social commentary. There was a lot more to this "rose that grew from concrete" than the thug life motto he's become known for. As he recounts his childhood and affirms black women, Pac is both critical and grateful to his mother, former Black Panther Afeni Shakur. Despite her shortcomings it's clear that activism helped shaped his incendiary passion. 

Fight The Power - Public Enemy
Our freedom of speech is freedom or death / We got to fight the powers that be
Lemme hear you say / Fight the power
This anthem, originally from the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s classic movie Do the Right Thing and later on PE’s seminal album Fear of a Black Planet, Chuck Dee doesn't worry about the push toward political correctness and puts his point of view front and center in this classic composition.   

Freedom (Theme from Panther)
Slung from the belly of the beast / Used to speak African tongue
So I showed her next one bolder / Slung the devil over my shoulder
I'm getting over 'cause I'm bolder than the next / I'm enlightened 'cause I speak the real truth from the text
"Freedom" was a 1995 song released on Mercury Records featuring a chorus of over 60 African-American female artists and groups of note in hip-hop, pop and R&B music including AaliyahVanessa L. WilliamsMary J. BligeMC LyteCokoEn VogueSWVTLCLisa Lopes, and Monica

Umi Says - Mos Def
My Umi said shine your light on the world / Shine your light for the world to see
My Abi said shine your light on the world / Shine your light for the world to see
I want black people to be free, to be free, to be free
Brooklyn Muslim Dante Terrell Smith is better known by the stage names Mos Def and Yasiin Bey. The recording artist and actor performed with the groups Thermo Dynamics and Black Star before establishing his solo career with the Black on Both Sides. "Umi Says" was a spirit-filled, radio friendly hit that reminded listeners of their luminescence.

Liberation - Outkast
If your ass don't move, and the rain don't fall
And the ground just dry
But the roots are strong, so some survive
Outkast teamed up with Erykah Badu, Big Rube, Cee-Lo in 1998 to combine a variety of musical styles, including gospel,jazz, blues, and world music on a song that included rapped vocals, while also featuring soul singing and spoken word styles.  Lyrically, the track utilizes images of slavery to symbolize freedom from hatred, inequality, and all the obstacles people face in their community (and music industry) that can distract from their goals and true objectives.

Yes We Can - Will.I.Am
Yes we can to justice and equality / Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity
Yes we can heal this nation / Yes we can repair this world
Produced by Black Eyed Peas member Wil.I.Am, Yes We Can was created to mobilize youth voter registration and turnout for Barack Obama's first presidential campaign. Will.I.Am sampled sound bytes from Obama's concession speech in the 2008 New Hampshire primary.

**After your hip hop black history lesson make sure your kids know the words to We Shall Overcome and The Black National Anthem!