Marco CervantesOn Thursday, March 9, 2017, in collaboration with the Career Advancement Academy (CAA), the Center for Innovative Practices through Hip Hop Education and Research (CIPHER) hosted its annual CIPHER Guest Speakers Series.  This year’s speaker was Dr. Marco Cervantes from the University of Texas at San Antonio where he is an associate professor in the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies and Mexican American Studies Program.  He researches and publishes on the Black and Chicanx cultural overlap with a focus on music and shared spaces.  He also performs as hip hop artist Mexican Step Grandfather as part of the Afro-Chicanx hip hop collective, Third Root.

He presented his talk, “Working as a Scholar Emcee:  Hip Hop Activism from the Community to the University” to over 175 students, faculty, and community members.  The attendees also consisted of high school students from Baden High School, 3rd Street Youth Center’s Health Core, South San Francisco High School, June Jordan High School, El Camino High School, and Peninsula High School who were at Skyline College as part of the Career Technical Education (CTE) Day experience.

Dr. Cervantes spoke to the audience about the historical context of communities of color and how resistance movements towards peace and equity exist as a result of this history.  He shared his knowledge and experiences through recited verses of hip hop songs his group, Third Root, created to inform and educate the communities around topics such as immigrant rights, police brutality, and racism.  Students learned that the arts such as photography, poetry, music, and film are forms of active resistance that can be used locally and globally to spread awareness of various topics.

Many thanks to those who made this event possible:  Alina Varona, Lauren Ford, Jeremy Evangelista, and Nate Nevado.  The committee would also like to thank Lasana Hotep, Dean of Student Equity and Support Programs for providing the welcome remarks to kick start the presentation.


For more information about CIPHER, please contact Nate Nevado at

Article by Nate Nevado & Alina Varona | Photo by William Nacouzi