The Don’t Believe the Hype Foundation was established by journalist Cheryl Smith to fund and operate programs and promote activities for youth, with a special emphasis on scholarships, life skills education and college preparation.
Over the years the Foundation has hosted forums focusing on the theme “Don’t Believe the Hype.” One year Mamie Till Mobley (the mother of Emmett Till), journalists George E. Curry, Clarence Gentry and Bob Ray Sanders, and Judge L.A. Bedford discussed Till’s brutal slaying resulting from him “whistling at a white woman.” Another forum featured noted historian Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, who dispelled historical data that Christopher Columbus discovered America. And, following the death of rapper Tupac Shakur, the Foundation brought together experts to examine media coverage.
The phrase “Don’t Believe the Hype” was adopted from the hit song by rap group Public Enemy. Just like in Ms. Smith’s writings, the song encourages seeking truth, exploring and researching information, instead of believing media hype.
Cheryl Smith’s Don’t Believe the Hype Celebrity Bowl-a-thon is the major fundraiser for the foundation. Over the years there have been numerous celebrities including comedians Dick Gregory, Shuckey Duckey, David A. Arnold, Nanette Lee and Phyllis Yvonne Stickney; singers Eric Benet, Imaj and Miles Jaye; Public Enemy members Chuck D and Malik Farrakhan; former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, U.S. Congressman Martin Frost; actors Kiki Shepard, Glynn Turman, Vanessa Bell Calloway and Dawnn Lewis; national journalists Rene Syler, Brian Custer and Roland Martin, professional athletes and a host of others. The support from area media personalities and journalists has been overwhelming!
It’s a fun event and proceeds go to programs benefiting area youth; especially the low-to-moderate income. Additionally proceeds from the event have helped provide travel for journalism students to conventions in Seattle, Phoenix, Orlando, D.C., Atlanta, Indianapolis, Houston, New Orleans, Las Vegas and Oklahoma. Jeffries Street Learning Center, the Black Academy of Arts and Letters, the Emmett Till Foundation and the African American Museum are just a few of the beneficiaries over the years.