Hip-hoppers hope to GOTV

CHICAGO – On a rainy Thursday night, March 25, over 200 young Black adults came together in Chicago’s newest community center named in honor of the late Harold Washington. It was located in the heart of the South Side, at the corner of the famous Tobacco Road (East 47th Street) and Martin Luther King Drive. The night included music, contests, and the usual corporate giveaways. But the hip-hop event, the first in a series of “Let’s Jam, Jam Sessions,” was part of the One Mind, One Vote campaign which is dedicated to registering 2 million young urban adults to vote in time for the November election.

Along with hip-hop radio’s brightest star, Doug Banks, the ward’s alderman, Dorothy Tillman, opened the event saying, “We’re going to hip-hop to the polls” in honor of “the price we’ve paid for our right to vote.” Following speakers echoed those sentiments, saying voting is one of the most serious things you can do in your life. The night also included appearances by hip-hop’s emerging political activists, Russell Simmons and Rev. Run, from rap music legend Run DMC.

Banks, Simmons and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) launched the One Mind, One Vote campaign to create change this November. HSAN will hold summits around the country this year, all focused on nurturing a positive political and social youth movement. Their demands range from the complete elimination of poverty to free expression of hip-hop culture.

As the year continues, it is hoped that HSAN and the One Mind, One Vote campaign will not only motivate an increased young adult voter turnout, but also start the types of discussions that encourage all voters to stay politically involved year round.

The author can be reached at bkishner@pww.org.