Is Hip Hop a Movement? In 2009 We Examined Our Political Relevance..

Tonight the good folks from Hip Hop Ed will be hosting their weekly online twitter discussion with the topic being ‘Can Hip Hop Advance a Movement?’  We are reposting this article from 2009 along with some videos we did at the time addressing this issue. Obvious 4 years later we have a lot more things to look at in weighing this question, but its good to go back and see how folks were thinking at what was deemed a monumental moment in time..

Racist People are suspicious of President Obama, with or without a hoodie

President Obama

With President Barack Obama in the White House and more than 2/3 of the voters between the ages of 18-40 (the Hip Hop generation) voting for him, many are celebrating and talking about the political power and social movement potential of Hip Hop. Is Hip Hop a Movement?

That’s the question we been asking from coast to coast. If it is a movement how is that manifested? Is there a political agenda or does it even need one? Some say the movement is centered around the music and dance aspects and that Hip Hop has managed to bring people of all races and all creeds around one proverbial campfire.

The concept pushed forth by pioneer Afrika Bambaataa of Peace, Love and Having Fun as opposed to engaging in gang violence is a movement. The commitment to embrace Hip Hop’s 5th element-Knowledge is a movement for some. The fact that Hip Hop is practiced all over the world is proof of a movement.Many have argued that had it not been for Hip Hop President Obama would not have been elected because Hip Hop significantly lessened the type of apprehension and prejudices held by people in older generations who simply could not and would not vote for a Black candidate.
Others are saying that because Obama had Hip Hop super stars like Jay-Z and Will I am playing key roles in exciting voters and getting them to the poles, is proof that Hip Hop is a Movement.

Others say such activities is not a movement but a clever marketing strategy. In fact getting a president into office is not a movement-Having day to day political capital and people in office being accountable to you on local levels is what makes a movement. It’s been pointed out that if Hip Hop played such a crucial role in getting President Obama into the White House where is the payback? Has been addressing issues held dear by the Hip Hop generation? Does he have someone who understands the Hip Hop community in his cabinet? What sort of money is being directed to Hip Hop organizations in the latest stimulus packages?

We assembled a number of people ranging from Chuck D of Public Enemy to former Green Party Vice Presidential candidate Rosa Clemente to Professor Jared Ball to Hip Hop icons Paradise Gray of X-Clan and a host of others to tackle this question. Is Hip Hop a Movement? Take a look at the videos and weigh in.

We also show how Hip Hop folks are out and about making things happen. Some of what we depict are folks like Shamako Noble of Hip Hop Congress helping lead a Poor People’s march to Oakland rapper D’Labrie stirring up a crowd at a Get out to Vote rally to Baltimore rapper Labtekwon freestyling on a street about consciousness raising. The clips and corresponding links are shown below. Enjoy

Is Hip Hop a Movement? pt1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NYhPCuq_mc

We speak w/ former rapper Khari Mosley who is a member of One Hood out of Pittsburgh, Pa and an elected official who also heads up the League of Young Voters field operations & Dr Jared Ball who ran for Green Party Presidential nominee and does the FreeMix Mixtapes who offer up differing opinions on this topic on Hip Hop

Is Hip Hop a Movement? pt2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XzP_GCzEW8

Paradise the Arkitech

Paradise the Arkitech

We continue our conversation about Hip Hop being a movement. Here we talk to two veterans of the Civil Rights Movements and the Black Power Movements. One is DJ Paradise of the legendary group X-Clan. Paradise was part of the Blackwatch Movement which fought for social justice. He was also a part of the Black Spades street gang at a time when Afrika Bambaataa was transforming it and moving it in a direction where members took on community responsibility.

We also talk with Fred Rush who is the deputy mayor of Erie, Pa. He is a civil rights vet who at age 15 went to the historic March on Washington where Dr Martin Luther King delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. He contrasts the Hip Hop Movement with the Civil Rights Movement and explains what is needed in order to have a successful movement

Is Hip Hop a Movement? pt3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jv-ZtAFrT8

Our discussion continues w/ TJ Crawford who put together the National Hip Hop Political Convention in Chicago 2006. We also talk with Rev Lennox Yearwood who heads up the Washington DC based Hip Hop Caucus. We also hear from rapper Haitian Fresh-who is defining the Hip Hop Movement for him and his fans. Where do u stand on this?

Is Hip Hop a Movement? pt4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlupyZYgCJc

We continue our discussion by breaking bread w/ Baltimore rapper Omar Akbar aka Labtekwon. We also talk w/ Shamako Noble & D’Labrie of Hip Hop Congress and see them in action fighting for social justice.

Chuck D

Chuck D

Is Hip Hop a Movement? We Interview Chuck D of Public Enemy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=br6dC_4S8B4

We sat down w/ Public Enemy front man Chuck D and asked him to weigh in on the question of ‘Is Hip Hop a Movement? He tells us about the world wide impact of this culture and explains what we need to consider when answering this question.

Is Hip Hop a Movement? Hip Hop activist Rosa Clemente Speaks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjLMbgtYUfY

Long time Hip Hop activists and former VP Green Party candidate Rosa Clemente sat with us and gave us her take on Hip Hop and it’s political relevance. She offers us up a cold dose of reality and asks some very hard questions

Dhoruba Bin Wahad: What Do We Do Now that Barack Obama is Re-Elected?

Hard Knock Radio logoIt’s always a pleasure to chop it up with author, former Black Panther and political prisoner Dhoruba bin Wahad. His political insights and analysis are always astute as he challenges us to not settle for anything less than justice for those who are oppressed.  Because of Dhoruba’s sharpness, we had to include him in our post-election series of  ‘Where Do We Do Now That Barack Obama Is Re-Elected?‘  He did not disappoint..

Below is our Hard knock Radio interview w/ Dhoruba Bin Wahad..

As you listen to the interview, here’s some background. The opening of our interview starts off with an excerpt from a landmark speech Dhoruba gave in the summer of 2008 at the National Hip Hop Political Convention in Las Vegas. We dubbed ‘A Message to the Hip Hop Grassroots‘.  Here Dhoruba talked at length about a 30 year attempt by far right forces in this country to consolidate power and dismantle gains made under the New Deal and later the Civil Rights Movementt.

Dhoruba Bin WahadDhoruba talked about the rise of a police state where the stripping of constitutional rights would seem normal to a beleaguered population. He also talked about what sort of things we could expect  slave ascends to the slave masters house including increased oppression not just from outside forces angry at a Blackening and Browning America, but also from President Obama himself and interests he represents.  Dhoruba notes that Obama is part of a larger scenario (the American Empire) where Black faces are used to get the masses to buy back into an imperialistic system versus oppose it..

Below is part of the 2008 speech  Message to the Hip Hop Grassroots.. We had the music and historic sound clips to enhance what Dhoruba was speaking about…

Jared Ball and Rosa Clemente Were Right by Shamako Noble

“In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say.”  -W.E.B. Du-Bois

“The Green Party isn’t the alternative. It’s the imperative.” -Rosa Clemente

“For me, it’s simple.  It’s either the Greenhouse or the penitentiary.”-Cheri Honkala

“Four years later and I’m kicking it with the Green Party VP candidate. Again.” -Rahman Jamaal

Sword of the West Shamako Noble

Jared Ball and Rosa Clemente were right. There is something taking place with the relationship between Hip Hop and the Green Party.  Maybe it’s because the Green Party, much like Hip Hop, can be blamed for a mess much larger than itself. Maybe it’s because both of them have spent their whole existence fighting corporate media, corporate influence and getting shut out of the conversation. Maybe it’s because they are stuck in a world where the “mainstream” dictates definition, your perspective, and your contribution.  Maybe it’s because they both imagine a world where education is accessible to all, there are no more evictions and no more foreclosures, where food production, resolving community challenges and culture is localized and more money is spent on education and housing than war and imprisonment.

Or, as 2004 Presidential candidate for the Green Party David Cobb put it, “maybe it is because Hip Hop and the Green Party are both revolutionary calls for such systemic social political and economic change that you just can’t get it until you get it.” Whatever the case may be, it is a relationship that keeps expanding. That expansion was given to us not just by the natural development of our economic and political situation, but also by leaders like Jared Ball and Rosa Clemente. When they took this route, I did not get that. I get it now. And it looks like a lot of other people are getting it, too. Note: No matter who you are, some of this article will and should be unfamiliar to you. And that’s part of the point.

2008: The Green Party Meets Hip Hop, and Hip Hop meets Obama

Dr Jared Ball

In 2008, Hip Hop had it’s first Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate in Jared Ball and Rosa Clemente. This was significant coming off of the National Hip Hop Political Conventions of 2004 and 2006. At this time they were at the forefront of a process that continues to unfold today. At that time Rosa Clemente famously said, “The Green Party is not only the alternative, it’s the imperative.” Jared and Rosa, and artists like Head-Roc out of the DC Statehood Green Party Chapter were on a curve that continues to expand even as this race between “two-parties”continues to tighten.

When Jared Ball, professor, media activist, organizer, and a leader in the National Hip Hop community ran for President on the Green Party ticket in 2008, a lot of people (myself included) didn’t know how to process that.  Still, when Jared Ball ran the “Hip Hop For President” campaign he raised a possibility that hadn’t yet been considered in a lot of circles in any serious way– a Hip Hop presidential candidate on an independent party slate bringing up and championing the issues present in the communities where Hip Hop has impact. Hip Hop had already made some very significant strides with the National Hip Hop Political convention and a plethora of activity that took place on the state and national level. There were also a lot of folks from the Green Party who were interested in further developing that kind of a relationship including Anita Rios, former Co-Chair of the USGP National Committee and Dean Meyerson and founder and Executive Director of the Green Institute.

Head-Roc

Jared Ball had a vision. And he teamed up with the DC Artist Head-Roc to execute a creative and artistic strategy for that.  Head-Roc and Jared Ball created a two-man artist/candidate multimedia presentation that would be great indicator of what was to come. His reasoning is simple, “George Jackson remains correct. After the fact of monopoly capital the vote becomes meaningless. Our only hope for electoral politics is to develop viable alternatives to what currently exists. If we are to vote, we must develop a party worthy of that effort and struggle. It is the Green Party that best represents that hope.

In other areas, the large majority of political activity which took place under the moniker “Hip-Hop” did so either in an independent, non-electoral or non-political party way, or in many cases in a way that made the work seem automatically pro-democratic party in nature even when it was not explicitly taking that position. There are many who believe that the Democratic Party machine engagement contributed to the split of the original collective who helped to organize the National Hip Hop Political convention at the time.

Soon President Obama was winning the nomination, and it was all but sure that the Hip Hop vote would lean in his direction. It was a legitimate position at the time, because every rapper and there mom were taking photo ops with the soon to be President. My position on Obama at the time can be found here (http://debugcommunity.blogspot.com/2008/01/barack-obama-is-new-oj.html). But the Green party delivered a one-two punch that would shock the world. Former Democratic Party Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney became the Presidential candidate for the Green Party, and announced as her running mate, Rosa Clemente.

Both Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente had a great deal of support within the Hip Hop community, although that support would struggle to be organized. Jared Ball and Head-Roc would continue their campaign, only re-focused in a manner that was supportive of Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente, setting their own egos aside long enough to get in line with the Green Party program.

Rosa Clemente at the Poor People’s March 2008

And while Cynthia McKinney had developed a particular platform on a national stage, Rosa Clemente was a new and unexpected element. Rosa, who was a founder of the National Hip Hop Political Convention, a member of the Malcom X Grassroots Movement and one of the people who would help define Hip Hop Activism since it’s inception, added something new into presidential politics. She was a candidate who related explicitly as Hip Hop.  Rosa would go on to make appearances at the Hip Hop Congress National Convention in Biloxi, MS and the National Hip Hop Political Convention in Las Vegas, NV. This would be the very same year that, in a moment of movement prophecy, Rosa Clemente would stand with the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, marching with National Coordinator of that organization, Cheri Honkala, and thousands more people at the March For Our Lives in St. Paul, MN.

Rosa was also working to get dead prez at the march following a performance taking place at one of the many cultural events during the RNC protests. This march hit many sites in St. Paul including prisons, shelters and significant areas of St. Paul movement history. Halfway through the march Rage against the Machine, who were hosting a concert that was spontaneously canceled, directed their 4,000 attendees to join the March already holding 6,000 attendees being led by Cheri and Rosa. Little did the world know, but that march held both the 2008 and 2012 Vice Presidential candidates of the Green Party. And they were marching for the lives of poor people, Black, Brown, Yellow, Red, White, Women, Men, other gender qualifications, Children, Elders, unborn and ancestors alike. It was a prophetic moment, indeed.

2012: Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide.

Cheri Honkala

Fast forward to 2011, and Cheri Honkala is running for Sheriff in Philadelphia.  And get this– Cheri and the Greens were running on an explicit platform of NO EVICTIONS, NO FORECLOSURES.  Imagine for a hot second a sheriff who simply refused to evict poor people from their homes! Now imagine hundreds of them. That’s a good example of what it looks like. Hip Hop culture can get focused about implementing our program, not just envisioning it. On top of that, there are folks in Hip Hop on the ground doing this kind of work locally, nationally and internationally every day.

Fast forward a year later,  Cheri is now the Vice Presidential candidate for Green Party running on a ticket with Massachusetts-bred Dr. Jill Stein, whose Green New Deal slides closely with the platforms and concepts first elaborated on in the platform statement released by the National Hip Hop Political convention some eight years earlier in 2004.  And Cheri Honkala, as PPHRC-founder & organizer, has a long history of working with other organizers and cultural producers like Mic Crenshaw in Portland, OR, Manny Phesto in Minneapolis, MN and Rebel Diaz in Chicago. The Green Party in general, and Cheri Honkala specifically, have often reflected many of the radical positions that have been expressed in Hip Hop movement and activism. While there continues to be critique and refinement around the value of the Green Party, this presidential and vice presidential campaign continues to embody much of that natural connection.

Just take a look at some of the activity that has taken place over the last two weeks.

George Martinez

We begin with a rally in New York where Global Block Foundation founder, first Hip Hop candidate to win a seat in New York (2002), former Chairman of the Hip Hop Association and current U.S. Ambassador George Martinez. George was also a Congressional candidate from within the Occupy movement. George Martinez performed in support of Dr. Stein and Ms. Honkala and is currently advocating a three-point platform which fits directly into the platform of the Green New deal as well as this past year’s monumental occupy movement. That platform is as follows:

GROAmerica (Grass Roots Organizing America) is an integrated community empowerment and civic engagement initiative that represents the evolution of multiple experimental and collaborative, organizing frameworks. GROAmerica operates with a sense of urgency, as inner city communities everywhere are at a crossroads of economic instability, street violence and failing trust in public institutions. It is designed to promote local activism and resource exchange to connect community members that are not otherwise engaged to local resources. It fosters practical, creative and culturally relevant solutions to address long-term community needs. And can be used to address emergency issues and conditions in any community. The end goal is to build a grassroots system between public, private, civil society and community stakeholders to collectively identify and tackle local issues through the convergence of cultural expression, civic engagement, and community resource management/mobilization.

GROAmerica is an open source, do it yourself (DIY) model with a three-pronged approach:

a) public assemblies that combine culturally relevant dialogues, tool driven workshops and creative expression;

b) issue/needs-based direct actions;

c) Community-resource Mapping Network System (ComMNS®): a GIS mapping and mobilization system connecting community resources and needs

That was followed with the Stein campaign’s Associate Campaign Manager, Erika Wolf attending the “Give a sh*@” Happy hour hosted by Chicago Votes, an organization headed and created by Chicago’s National Hip Hop Political Convention 2006 Co-Chair, TJ Crawford. Later on the week, Cheri Honkala came to the Bay Area where she attended a community Q&A hosted by myself at San Jose’s own Silicon Valley De-Bug with the support of the Santa Clara County Green Party. It taking place there is significant as De-Bug as been at the forefront of culture, justice, labor, immigration and youth work in the South bay since its inception in late 90’s. One of it’s founders, Raj Jaydev is well-known in the community for his work with families, organizations and individuals. He welcomed the event into the space with grace, gratitude and vision.  In attendance at the event where some independent Hip Hop notables such as DLabrie, Rahman Jamaal and B-Jada of Hip Hop Congress and RonDavoux Records, Dione Johnson of the Multi-Media Center, Society of Metafizix, Arman Mahoudi of KSJS and Open University and Malcom Lee of The San Jose Zulu Nation Chapter and many others. It was a potent mix of attendee’s who related as Hip Hop, Occupy and the Green Party. She took questions about police brutality, health care, forgiving student debt, the Green New Deal, and how she ended up being the VP candidate.

Presidential debate Roundtable w/ Cheri Honkala

The process continued the next day the following day with a group of 70 plus students at De Anza college in Cupertino, the sixth largest community College in the state of California. That was followed by an event at Youth Uprising hosted by the Hip Hop Chess Federation’s visionary and founder Adisa Banjoko. Honkala couldn’t stay because of traffic concerns with the Giants game, but the movie screening itself, “Brooklyn Castle” portrayed the struggles of public education and programs for our youth. That was followed by a post-presidential debate panel discussion hosted by Hip Hop journalist and historian Davey D, who’s been on top of covering the campaign since the Democratic National Convention. It was there Davey noted that much of the mainstream press wasn’t covering the third party candidates. The Panel included folks like Rob “Biko” Baker of the League of Young Voters, Josh Harley of Youth Together, and Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi

Jacobs-Fantauzzi is a Green Party Candidate for Mayor of Berkeley who is also the founder of Students for Hip Hop at UC Berkeley. Kahlil was also responsible for co-hosting a community event for Cheri Honkala, where they took questions together as local and national representatives. Among many issues they both nailed home from a national and a local perspective, was how both of them were being locked out of the conversation. Cheri elaborated on being locked in a warehouse for over 8 hours with Dr. Jill Stein while nobody knew where they were after trying to participate in the Presidential debates. Kahlil shared how the Democratic Club of Berkeley refused to be democratic when it came to his participation, making efforts to refuse his voice in their public debates. DLabrie performed the powerful cut, “It Ain’t EZ,” while J.R. Valery, noted and respected activist, organizer, journalist and freedom fighter from Oakland dropped science on how candidates can best engage non-profit and public radio stations.

2012 and Beyond-What else is possible?

Dr Jill Stein

Have whatever opinion you’d like, but here are the facts. The movement and the platform of the Green Party along with the people interested in taking leadership and understanding are increasingly young people, people of color who may or may not identify as Hip Hop but are definitely connected to Hip Hop activity and political action. They are also more and more people interested in supporting the Green Party as a place to challenge the Democractic Party paradigm as the electoral vanguard of the movement.

Taking a look at the Green New Deal, and the work of Dr. Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala, and leaders like Rosa Clemente and Jared Ball, it becomes an unavoidable question. Or even better, an answer to a question that was asked of us four years ago when Jared and Rosa first ran. Was getting Hip Hop involved with Green Party worth the effort?  Well, in many ways, it looks more and more like an inevitability with the mere question becoming what role, if any, will you play. Even Bakari Kitwana, Co-Founder of the National Hip Hop Political Convention, and author of the the upcoming book, “Hip Hop Activism in the Obama Age” acknowledges that a functional and healthy relationship between Hip Hop and the Green Party could help resolve some of the Green Party’s challenges with expanding it’s base, reach and community grounding  while the Green Party offers a political infrastructure that Hip Hop has yet to develop, and that is still young enough to be open to creativity and leadership.

If you want to vote for Obama, cool with me. Honestly, as a Black  man, and a father who wants his children to see that and know that they can have that ambition, I feel that. As a son who was happy that his parents got to live to see that, I can understand that. I can relate to that and respect that decision. As Tina Bell Wright, noted Hip Hop Professor and writer of the “Rise Up, Hip Hop Nation” series said, “in 2008, a vote for Obama was a vote for history.” But we have still got some key questions that need rapid answers.

Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi

If you are in a state that is already going to Romney, or already going to Obama, and you agree with the Green Party platform, why wouldn’t you vote in it’s favor? Why not support candidates like Jill Stein, Cheri Honkala and Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi. If five percent of the electorate voting for the Green Party candidates means 20 million dollars in the next four years to develop the party, what position will you take in that? If you don’t believe in the Democratic Party anymore and you’re only voting for the lesser of two evils, when do we start building something different? What are our plans for making these ideas real in the next two weeks and the next four years? Do the tactics and strategies of electoral organizing and community organizing have to also remain as an either/or or can we begin to use them as a tandem strategy of both/and?

Will there be a space to discuss internalized classism, corporate influence and poverty in US politics or will that be pushed further and further into the margins to be filled with conversations about race, gender and sexuality that, while true, don’t addresses the whole of our challenges as a planet or community right now? When we know that the lesser of two evils aren’t bringing up the education-to-prison pipeline, or ecological disaster, how long will we wait to address them on our own or through other means? What are the daily, weekly and monthly actions that happen on a consistent basis that will build the relationships and credibility for that? What else is possible?

David Cobb

David Cobb is one Green leader excited about the possibilities.  “We need each other,” he says.  “The Green Party needs the youthful energy, the cultural component, and the multi-racial juice Hip Hop brings and represents.  And frankly, we need Hip Hop to push and challenge us on important issues like white supremacy, the school-to-prison pipeline, and a host of subjects.  We don’t know what we don’t know in the Green Party, and we need to be schooled by Hip Hop.”

Cobb also reminds us the need goes both ways.

“Hip Hop also needs the Green Party,” he continued. “Hip Hop needs the institutional capacity we have developed, the fully developed political program that incorporates peace, justice, ecology and democracy.  And frankly Hip Hop needs the focus that a serious, radical electoral campaign can provide.”

written by Shamako Noble of Hip Hop Congress

 

Turning Outrage Into Power-National Hip Hop Political Convention

National Hip Hop Political Convention-nhhpc

Turning Outrage Into Power
By Malik Cooper, WireTap

Alternet — August 16, 2006

www.alternet.org/story/40441/

Saying hip-hop is global now isn’t telling you
something you don’t already know, unless you have been
living under a rock since Planet Rock first dropped.
But using the art form for political gains is something
new, and spearheading this movement is the National Hip
Hop Political Convention (NHHPC).

The 2006 NHHPC in Chicago — the second biennial
convention — opened on July 20 and over the course of
three days engaged over 1,000 participants in the
debates over issues like misogyny in hip-hop, media
justice, the aftermath of Katrina, grassroots activism,
organizational leadership and electoral politics. The
convention closed with a concert on Saturday featuring
Dead Prez, Chicago Poets and Boots Riley among many
other artists.

NHHPC was founded in late 2002 when some elders pulled
organizers from all over the country for the first
national convention in New Jersey that aimed at
creating a political agenda for the hip-hop community.
I first got involved at this time, as we worked at
finding the issues of our community. Born and raised in
California’s Bay Area, I had been speaking publicly
since a young age, but became really active when I
finished filming MTV’s Real World series. After the
show I traveled as a motivational speaker to colleges
and got involved with youth organizations committed to
the fight against Big Tobacco. Through a good friend I
got invited to the Bay Area’s Local Organizing
Committee (Bay-LOC) meeting, and began to get involved
in hip-hop politics.

Like other local organizers around the country, we went
around our community with issue sheets for people to
fill out, which we used to create a state agenda.
During the state convention individuals from over 30
states and Puerto Rico came together and created a
national agenda. By February 2005, a group of different
LOC members had a retreat in Atlanta and formed a
national body with a steering committee whose goals
were to help bring local groups together and facilitate
any national work that needed to be done.

After Bay-LOC returned to California, we began to
organize a local Hip Hop Summit at Laney College in
Oakland in September 2005. One day of workshops and a
concert, which included performances from Dead Prez and
E40, attracted thousands. We had support and speeches
from Rep. Barbara Lee and Bay-LOC’s own Dereca
Blackman, and handed out voter guides, which we rewrote
in new language that identified with the hip-hop
generation.

Around the same time, the Chicago-LOC began working as
a host committee for the next convention. It was up to
them to handle the event program, and the event’s
success can only be attributed to their hard work.

The convention itself started with a dialogue between
organizers of past movements like Civil Rights and
Black Power, including Fred Hampton Jr. (Prisoners Of
Conscience Committee), Cliff Kelley (WVON Radio Host),
Angela Woodson (Federation of Democratic Women), and
writer and activist Amina Norman-Hawkins. Organizers
both young and old felt this was needed, since many
believed the torch was never passed on to the new
generation.

Hip-hop politics today — as I see it — identifies
strongly with the Black Power movement; the lyrics in
conscious rap resonate with ideals of Malcolm X and
self-determination. The Bay Area especially identifies
with the Black Panthers since its roots are found here.
But all over the globe — and even in early days of
hip- hop, when most music came from New York — lyrics
focus on the social ills and mistreatment of people of
color in this country. The same “@#%$ the system”
attitude gave birth to gangsta rap. And although the
majority of it now focuses on the material and the
misogynistic, early pioneers of the art form told the
world what was going on or was absent in their
neighborhoods. In other countries like Brazil,
Venezuela, Cuba — today more than ever — hip-hop
serves this same purpose.

Not everyone at the convention represented a LOC, and
with the alliance building that had been taking place
since the NHHPC’s inception, I saw other hip-hop groups
like the Hip Hop Congress represented there in full
force, leading workshops and hosting the concert piece.
The League of Young Voters had a huge presence, and not
only helped raise money for the convention but also
taught workshops on branding the hip-hop political
movement, lobbying, base building and electoral
politics.

The first day’s workshops seemed geared at creating
better methods of organizing the organizers. Panels and
workshops focused on alliance building, using art for
activism, political prisoners, organizing against war
and occupation, hip-hop and gender politics,
nonviolence strategies, and the use of electoral
politics.

On that Friday afternoon, a jam-packed room of folks
from all over the country listened to Kali Acunu
(Jericho Amnesty Movement), Troy Nkrumah, (chair of the
NHHPC steering committee), and chairman Fred Hampton
Jr. (Prisoners Of Conscience Committee) talk about the
many political prisoners that are currently
incarcerated. Harman Bell, Kamau Sadiki, Zolo Azania
Ojora Lutalo, Rodney Coronado, and Veronza Bowers were
a few of the names mentioned. Rapper Immortal Technique
event came in and voiced his support on the issue, and
it definitely was one of the most informative panels.

Saturday, July 21, seemed to begin with many issue-
based workshops and panels on education, criminal
justice, health and wellness, Katrina, immigration,
gender rights, white privilege in hip-hop, and media
justice. The media justice panel included Lisa Fager
(Industry Ears) and Davey D (Hardknock Radio/Breakdown
FM), who talked about a variety of subjects like the
media’s control over hip-hop and net neutrality. The
immigration and gender rights were two new issues added
to the 2006 agenda. I led the panel on gender rights,
whose purpose was to expose some of the misogynistic
rap lyrics in a social context, allowing participants
to better understand why the popular rap pushed by
record executives and radio stations seem so focused on
portraying negative images.

After the panels were over, a concert was thrown with a
battle between local folks. Using all the elements of
hip-hop, from rapping, break dancing, DJ-ing and
graffiti, crews took to the stage to compete for a
$1,000 prize. Afterward, local conscious artists like
Akbar, and national artists like Dead Prez and Immortal
Technique gave amazing performances. Even Chicago’s
rain and thunder could not clear the crowd formed at
Mandrake Park.

Sunday was a day for the national steering committee to
hear the voices of participants. Delegates representing
different LOCs, artists and organizers for different
groups were allowed to change the agenda and recommend
action steps that the LOCs can take home and start
implementing. The location for the next convention will
be announced soon. Will it be back East in New York,
down South in Atlanta, out West in the Bay Area, or
will newly formed but highly active Las Vegas LOC take
the 2008 to its Red State? We shall have to wait and
see.

The organization as a whole has a talent at balancing
the varied political views of its members, some of
which seek to fight for social justice through
electoral politics, while others seemed more determined
to fight through grassroots activism. The way these
varied ideologies have still found a way to work
together for a common goal is why the NHHPC is still
going and growing strong. The structure with no leader
but still led strong through the local organizing
committee gives this organization a type of strength
that I have not seen in many other organizations that
function more top-down. I believe this unique model
will help keep their work relevant, and the
organization intact.

===
For more information about the NHHPC, or to learn how
to start a LOC (Local Organizing Committee) in your
area, go to HipHopConvention.org.

[Malik Cooper is the national spokesperson for the
NHHPC, as well as a Bay-LOC member. He also owns a
silk- screening and embroidery shop called People's
Choice Printing.]

Return To Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Turning Outrage Into Power-The Nat’l Hip Hop Political Convention

dbanner1newparis

Turning Outrage Into Power
By Malik Cooper, WireTap

Alternet — August 16, 2006
www.alternet.org/story/40441/

Saying hip-hop is global now isn’t telling you
something you don’t already know, unless you have been
living under a rock since Planet Rock first dropped.
But using the art form for political gains is something
new, and spearheading this movement is the National Hip
Hop Political Convention
(NHHPC).

The 2006 NHHPC in Chicago — the second biennial
convention — opened on July 20 and over the course of
three days engaged over 1,000 participants in the
debates over issues like misogyny in hip-hop, media
justice, the aftermath of Katrina, grassroots activism,
organizational leadership and electoral politics. The
convention closed with a concert on Saturday featuring
Dead Prez, Chicago Poets and Boots Riley among many
other artists.

NHHPC was founded in late 2002 when some elders pulled
organizers from all over the country for the first
national convention in New Jersey that aimed at
creating a political agenda for the hip-hop community.
I first got involved at this time, as we worked at
finding the issues of our community. Born and raised in
California’s Bay Area, I had been speaking publicly
since a young age, but became really active when I
finished filming MTV’s Real World series. After the
show I traveled as a motivational speaker to colleges
and got involved with youth organizations committed to
the fight against Big Tobacco. Through a good friend I
got invited to the Bay Area’s Local Organizing
Committee (Bay-LOC) meeting, and began to get involved
in hip-hop politics.

Like other local organizers around the country, we went
around our community with issue sheets for people to
fill out, which we used to create a state agenda.
During the state convention individuals from over 30
states and Puerto Rico came together and created a
national agenda. By February 2005, a group of different
LOC members had a retreat in Atlanta and formed a
national body with a steering committee whose goals
were to help bring local groups together and facilitate
any national work that needed to be done.

After Bay-LOC returned to California, we began to
organize a local Hip Hop Summit at Laney College in
Oakland in September 2005. One day of workshops and a
concert, which included performances from Dead Prez and
E40, attracted thousands. We had support and speeches
from Rep. Barbara Lee and Bay-LOC’s own Dereca
Blackman, and handed out voter guides, which we rewrote
in new language that identified with the hip-hop
generation.

Around the same time, the Chicago-LOC began working as
a host committee for the next convention. It was up to
them to handle the event program, and the event’s
success can only be attributed to their hard work.

The convention itself started with a dialogue between
organizers of past movements like Civil Rights and
Black Power, including Fred Hampton Jr. (Prisoners Of
Conscience Committee), Cliff Kelley (WVON Radio Host),
Angela Woodson (Federation of Democratic Women), and
writer and activist Amina Norman-Hawkins. Organizers
both young and old felt this was needed, since many
believed the torch was never passed on to the new
generation.

Hip-hop politics today — as I see it — identifies
strongly with the Black Power movement; the lyrics in
conscious rap resonate with ideals of Malcolm X and
self-determination. The Bay Area especially identifies
with the Black Panthers since its roots are found here.
But all over the globe — and even in early days of
hip- hop, when most music came from New York — lyrics
focus on the social ills and mistreatment of people of
color in this country. The same “@#%$ the system”
attitude gave birth to gangsta rap. And although the
majority of it now focuses on the material and the
misogynistic, early pioneers of the art form told the
world what was going on or was absent in their
neighborhoods. In other countries like Brazil,
Venezuela, Cuba — today more than ever — hip-hop
serves this same purpose.

Not everyone at the convention represented a LOC, and
with the alliance building that had been taking place
since the NHHPC’s inception, I saw other hip-hop groups
like the Hip Hop Congress represented there in full
force, leading workshops and hosting the concert piece.
The League of Young Voters had a huge presence, and not
only helped raise money for the convention but also
taught workshops on branding the hip-hop political
movement, lobbying, base building and electoral
politics.

The first day’s workshops seemed geared at creating
better methods of organizing the organizers. Panels and
workshops focused on alliance building, using art for
activism, political prisoners, organizing against war
and occupation, hip-hop and gender politics,
nonviolence strategies, and the use of electoral
politics.

On that Friday afternoon, a jam-packed room of folks
from all over the country listened to Kali Acunu
(Jericho Amnesty Movement), Troy Nkrumah, (chair of the
NHHPC steering committee), and chairman Fred Hampton
Jr
. (Prisoners Of Conscience Committee) talk about the
many political prisoners that are currently
incarcerated. Harman Bell, Kamau Sadiki, Zolo Azania
Ojora Lutalo, Rodney Coronado, and Veronza Bowers were
a few of the names mentioned. Rapper Immortal Technique
event came in and voiced his support on the issue, and
it definitely was one of the most informative panels.

Saturday, July 21, seemed to begin with many issue-
based workshops and panels on education, criminal
justice, health and wellness, Katrina, immigration,
gender rights, white privilege in hip-hop, and media
justice. The media justice panel included Lisa Fager
(Industry Ears) and Davey D (Hardknock Radio/Breakdown
FM), who talked about a variety of subjects like the
media’s control over hip-hop and net neutrality. The
immigration and gender rights were two new issues added
to the 2006 agenda. I led the panel on gender rights,
whose purpose was to expose some of the misogynistic
rap lyrics in a social context, allowing participants
to better understand why the popular rap pushed by
record executives and radio stations seem so focused on
portraying negative images.

After the panels were over, a concert was thrown with a
battle between local folks. Using all the elements of
hip-hop, from rapping, break dancing, DJ-ing and
graffiti, crews took to the stage to compete for a
$1,000 prize. Afterward, local conscious artists like
Akbar, and national artists like Dead Prez and Immortal
Technique
gave amazing performances. Even Chicago’s
rain and thunder could not clear the crowd formed at
Mandrake Park.

Sunday was a day for the national steering committee to
hear the voices of participants. Delegates representing
different LOCs, artists and organizers for different
groups were allowed to change the agenda and recommend
action steps that the LOCs can take home and start
implementing. The location for the next convention will
be announced soon. Will it be back East in New York,
down South in Atlanta, out West in the Bay Area, or
will newly formed but highly active Las Vegas LOC take
the 2008 to its Red State? We shall have to wait and
see.

The organization as a whole has a talent at balancing
the varied political views of its members, some of
which seek to fight for social justice through
electoral politics, while others seemed more determined
to fight through grassroots activism. The way these
varied ideologies have still found a way to work
together for a common goal is why the NHHPC is still
going and growing strong. The structure with no leader
but still led strong through the local organizing
committee gives this organization a type of strength
that I have not seen in many other organizations that
function more top-down. I believe this unique model
will help keep their work relevant, and the
organization intact.

===
For more information about the NHHPC, or to learn how
to start a LOC (Local Organizing Committee) in your
area, go to HipHopConvention.org.

[Malik Cooper is the national spokesperson for the
NHHPC, as well as a Bay-LOC member. He also owns a
silk- screening and embroidery shop called People's
Choice Printing.]

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