Fitchburg State University will highlight African Americans and the arts as the foundation of its Black History Month celebration in February. The programs will culminate in a keynote address by Rhymes with Reason founder Austin Martin.
The programming theme acknowledges the connection between African American art and influence with African, Caribbean, and the Black American lived reality. This theme, organized by the National Association for the Study of African American Life and History, focuses and emphasizes the many ways in which art manifests in our current world whether it be in film, architecture, cooking, and additional forms of expression.
The month will close with a keynote address at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 29 by Austin Martin, founder of Rhymes with Reason, in the main lounge of Hammond Hall. Admission to the talk is free and open to the public.
Rhymes with Reason helps youth learn vocabulary through music lyrics of famous artists. The organization’s mission is to teach young students how to learn vocabulary, language comprehension, and critical thinking through the power of music and lyrics. He’s created a platform with a curriculum that uses the music lyrics from many famous artists in the country to teach young people about vocabulary.
Martin came up with the idea for Rhymes with Reason (RWR) while he was at Brown University, and discovered that 67 of the top 100 words on the SAT were detectable in recognizable hip-hop lyrics. Since 2017, the organization has been used in more than 300 schools/education programs across the United States and has been covered by Bloomberg, NPR, Education Post, RevoltTV, Huffington Post and other media outlets. RWR has also collaborated with Chance the Rapper’s SocialWorks, Joel Embiid, LA Chargers and the Detroit Pistons. Martin was awarded the 2019 Echoing Green Fellowship, selected as one of 2020 Forbes 30 Under 30 in Education, 2021 International Literacy Association 30 under 30 awardee and graduated with an Ed.M. from Harvard's Graduate School of Education.
The keynote event is made possible by the support of the Newman Center Trust Fund.
Fitchburg State’s events were organized by its Black History Month Committee and the Center for Diversity and Inclusiveness.