1970 and I’m on my way to Chicago having just graduated from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science degree. Little did I know that destiny was taking me towards my real education.

I landed a job with Illinois Department of Corrections, Juvenile Division at a ‘reform school’ in Geneva Illinois – Illinois State Training School for Girls. There I was to meet young offenders that would open my heart and change my perspective on the world.

In the beginning, I had trouble communicating. I couldn’t understand the African American accent and expressions like “jive time’, ‘dozens’, ‘your momma’ and ‘square’ (cigarettes), left me bewildered. And I missed the verbs – ‘You ok, Miss Livett’ confounded my grammatically correct ear. Although the roots of rap were already there, the music didn’t exist to educate the masses to the rich and vibrant culture of African Americans. I was middle-class-stupid and was in the classroom of my life.