Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Group of young people visits to do politics hip-hop style

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

ENGLISH WOODS - Hip-hop culture has had worldwide influence on everything from language and music, to clothing and marketing for more than two decades. Youth from the hip-hop generation are now hoping to spread that influence into politics.

A bus filled with more than two dozen teens and young adults from across the Midwest stopped in Cincinnati to register voters Monday on their way to the National Hip-Hop Political Convention. The convention, which starts Wednesday in Newark, N.J., will bring roughly 2,000 youth from around the country to set up a hip-hop political agenda and prepare a new generation for political leadership.

The group, composed of aspiring rap artists from Minneapolis, Chicago and other Midwestern cities, visited English Woods, Cumminsville and Over-the-Rhine to talk with young people and register them to vote. The group, which has registered 250 people in Chicago and Kalamazoo, Mich., leaves for Pittsburgh today.

"The civil rights generation did not leave a political infrastructure for our generation," said Emily Morris, an organizer with the National Hip-Hop Civic Engagement Project. "We hope to start creating that infrastructure at the convention."

Rev. Damon Lynch III, who acted as a guide for the group, called the effort powerful because Morris' group was able to do what older activists like himself could not - relate to kids on the street.

"We just don't get this kind of engagement," Lynch said.

The three-day convention is based on a format similar to a 1972 Gary, Ind., gathering. That event promoted the campaigns of black candidates around the country. The convention ends on Juneteenth, which is Saturday.


E-mail kaldridge@enquirer.com

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