COLUMBUS, OHIO – JUNE 4, 2004- More than 8,000youth attended the Ohio Hip-Hop Summit on the campus of Ohio State University¹s Shottenstein Center June 3rd, 2004. The Ohio Hip-Hop Summit was the twenty first Hip-Hop Summit convened by Russell Simmons, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Kevin Liles, President of Def Jam Records, and Damon Dash, CEO of Roc-A-Fella Records and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network. The corporate sponsors of the Ohio Hip-Hop Summit were PlayStation 2 and Radio One¹s Power 107.5 WCKS, Magic 98.9 WXMG and Joy 106.3 WJYD. In addition, the Ohio Hip-Hop Summit was supported by America Coming Together (ACT).
The Honorable Mayor Michael B. Coleman of Columbus and the Honorable Mayor Don Plusquellic of Akron, who is also President of the US Conference of Mayors, welcomed the Summit participants.
During the last three years, the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network has been encouraging youth voter registration throughout the United States through its Hip-Hop Team Vote initiative (www.hsan.org). Over the past 12 months, there has been a particular focus on Ohio as a key state with a large number of unregistered youth. Prompting enthusiastic applause and a standing ovation, Dr. Chavis announced that 12 million young people 18-35 have registered to vote throughout America over the last three years. Dr. Chavis, President/CEO of HSAN, emphasized, “This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that young people today are rising to the occasion and opportunity to have their interests addressed by registering to vote.”
During the 2000 national election, 18 million young people voted. This year, HSAN, MTV, BET, ROCK THE VOTE and a host of other national organizations are attempting to get more than 20 million young people out to the polls this November.
“We¹re excited,” enthused Russell Simmons, HSAN¹s Chairman and co-founder. “We want to get every young person’s voice to count. The most American thing you can do is vote. So, having PlayStation 2 or any of the sponsors involved to provide additional help to get the word out for us is a plus.”
At the Ohio Hip-Hop Summit, PlayStation 2 polled the participants on the upcoming election. The results of the PlayStation 2 Pulse poll were: 86% of attendees, 18 years of age and older are registered to vote; 98% of attendees, 18 years of age and older said they would vote this November; 29% are still undecided as to who they¹ll vote for.
The top issues attendees will take into consideration during this year’s election are:
1. Education (70% said it was one of the top three) 2. Economy (58% said it was one of the top three) 3. Criminal Justice (50% said it was one of the top three)
Ohio State representative Joyce Beatty, who helped to lead the planning committee for the Ohio Hip-Hop Summit, stated, “We registered more young people to vote in just one week than has ever been accomplished before in Ohio in that short a period of time.” The Summit collected over 12,000 Hip-Hop Team Vote forms and Ohio voter registration forms leading up to the event. For the first time, youth in Ohio were given instructions on how to use the new voting machines, two of which were on display at the Ohio Hip-Hop Summit.
Joining Simmons, Liles and Dash, the panelists at The Ohio Hip-Hop Summit included Reverend Run of Run-DMC, Kanye West, Loon, Petey Pablo, Layzie Bone, Peedi Crakk, GLC, Jeff Johnson and Minister Darnell Muhammad.
Roc-A-Fella recording artist Kanye West stressed, “My whole movement in music has been to represent the little guy, and that’s how voting is, the little guy speaking up and voicing his or her opinion. If they thought we actually voted and it was more than just 20 or 30% of 18-35 year olds voting, we¹d have better candidates, candidates who cared about school programs, who didn’t want to send people off to war. So that’s why we have Hip-Hop Summits, because we want them to feel like we’re more important, because we are.”
Bad Boy recording artist Loon cautioned, “If you point out the situations in our communities – crime, gentrification- you will see we can’t solve problems if we don’t vote. We’ve got to understand the power of voting.”
Kevin Liles reminded the audience, “Each of us will have to take personal responsibility for our future. You can and will make a difference by registering to vote and staying focused on what you want to get out of life. Don’t wait for a mentor, become a mentor. If you want success, you have to work hard for it.”
“We are at the forefront of our culture and considered the coolest,” stated Damon Dash. “It is cool to be socially conscious, to do what’s right and to find a candidate to vote for.”
Jive recording artist Petey Pablo concluded as he was freestyling, “We are all here together, as never before, to inspire all young people to stand up and have their votes counted.”
Throughout the state of Ohio, the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network announced it would continue to work with ACT, Radio One and others in its on the ground and grass roots efforts to increase its youth voter registration drive and GOTV non-partisan campaign.