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Ellen Zoe Golden
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LOUISIANA “SWINGS² TO HIP-HOP VOTE
NEW ORLEANS HIP-HOP SUMMIT INSPIRES AND CHALLENGES THOUSANDS OF YOUTH TO REGISTER
PLAYSTATION®2/HSAN PULSE POLL REVEALS THAT 9 OUT OF 10 YOUTH FEEL EMPOWERED BY VOTING
RUSSELL SIMMONS, DR. BENJAMIN CHAVIS, REVEREND RUN,
KEVIN LILES, CASH MONEY, CHOPPA AND LL COOL J HOST 12,000 SUMMIT PARTICIPANTS
NEW YORK, NY -June 22, 2004 – In the aftermath of the first Hip-Hop Summit in the deep South, which was held Thursday, June 17, at the New Orleans Arena, thousands of youth are indicating their determination to make a difference in this year¹s National elections. The PlayStation®2/HSAN Pulse Poll conducted during the New Orleans Hip-Hop Summit, found that 9 out of 10 young people polled said they feel voting empowers them. In fact, more than half of the attendees surveyed registered to vote because they think they will be able to make a difference in the country and that voting will enable them to do that. The last presidential election only brought 36 per cent of Americans ages 18-24 to the polls, according to census figures, but according to the PlayStation®2/HSAN Pulse those numbers are likely to change.
“By polling today¹s youth, we have a better understanding of our core demographic and can hopefully aid the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network in its non-partisan voter registration initiatives,² said Molly Smith, director of public relations, Sony Computer Entertainment America.
For New Orleans’s young people, education, jobs and employment issues, and criminal justice were the top three issues that will motivate them to vote in this year¹s election. Gaining 71 percent of the vote, education was most important to these young voters; however, still in consideration were healthcare, national security, and censorship.
Not surprisingly, these were the same issues of concern to the panelists at the New Orleans Hip-Hip Summit. Nationally known artists such as Reverend Run, LL Cool J, BG, Da Brat, Layzie Bone, Loon, David Banner, Juvenile, Choppa, Humpty Hump and Ras B with Ricky Romance from B2K joined New Orleans Major C. Ray Nagin and Louisiana Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu in stressing the importance of participating in the political process through voting. The panelists led by example as they recalled their previous reluctance about engaging in the political process and explained why they now felt it necessary to take back responsibility.
David Banner said: “I didn¹t give a damn when I was younger. I¹m 30 now, and I¹m just beginning to become active.²
“There comes a point in your life that you can¹t just sit shotgun. you¹ve got to drive and voting is about driving,² concurs LL Cool J. “Hip-hop has come to a point where we can affect how this country is run.²
Much was discussed about the power of hip-hop as a culture to create a new paradigm for youth political participation. Russell Simmons challenged young Louisianans to embrace their future, “Hip-Hop gave us a voice to express our concerns about poverty and injustice. As a culture, we used that voice to bring those issues into the mainstream. Now as members of the hip-hop generation, we must use that voice and our collective power to support policies that will work to eradicate poverty and injustice. Louisiana can lead that charge.²
Kevin Liles, president of Def Jam Records, stated, “The hip hop generation intends to hold accountable all of those who seek our votes. This means they must speak to our issues before the election.²
Sponsors of the New Orleans Hip-Hop Summit were The City of New Orleans, the State of Louisiana, PlayStation®2 and Anheuser-Busch, Inc. The radio partners were Hot
104.5 FM, B97 FM, Q93 FM, Baton Rouge radio station MAX 94.1 and Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi radio station WJZD 95.5
Dr. Benjamin Chavis also thanked Voices for Working Families for aiding in the voter registration efforts on the day of the New Orleans Hip-Hop Summit. He stressed that efforts to register, educate and mobilize voters will be sustained across the state of Louisiana to ensure that the voices of this generation are heard: “They say Louisiana is a swing state. I say, it¹s going to swing to hip-hop!²
For more information about the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and Hip-Hop Team Vote, please go to www.hsan.org