An Examination of Kanye West’s Higher Education Trilogy

  • Heidi R. Lewis


The NBC sitcom A Different World, a spin-off of The Cosby Show, aired from 1987 to 1993. Watching that show every week undoubtedly influenced my desire to earn a college degree, but it was not the source of that desire. My dream actually began with The Cosby Show. Not knowing Dr. Huxtable was an OB/GYN, I wanted to be a pediatrician, because I thought they delivered and cared for babies. I will always be indebted to Bill Cosby for giving young blacks like myself a glimpse into college dormitories, cafeterias, and classrooms on A Different World. Because of him, I saw black professors for the first time. I believed that I could be a doctor. Since Kanye West is only four years older than I am, I can assume he also watched, or at least knew about, The Cosby Show and A Different World. The difference between the two of us, however, is that he didn’t need a television to witness blacks working in higher education. His mother, the late Dr. Donda West, was a professor of English at Clark Atlanta University and Chair of the English Department at Chicago State University before retiring to serve as his manager. Especially because of his background, then, many of individuals with strong academic sensibilities may be inclined to take offense to what appears to be an anti-academic stance infusing his first three albums: College Dropout (2004), Late Registration (2005), and Graduation (2007), hereafter referred to as “the higher education trilogy” or “the trilogy.”


Romantic Relationship Black Student Academic Integration Underrepresented Student Witness Black 
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© Julius Bailey 2014

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  • Heidi R. Lewis

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