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2004-06-23

Rap on Politics: First National Hip-Hop Convention Calls for Change

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The first-ever National Hip-Hop Political Convention came to a close last Saturday in Newark, New Jersey. The four-day gathering was attended by activists, elected officials, political pundits and hip-hop artists from all over the country. We hear a speech by New York City council member Charles Barron.[includes transcript]

We move from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Newark, New Jersey–from one political convention to another.

The first-ever National Hip-Hop Political Convention came to a close last Saturday in Newark, New Jersey. The four-day gathering drew an estimated 3,000-4,000 people and was attended by activists, elected officials, political pundits and hip-hop artists from all over the country.

The dialogue included topics such as new challenges in electoral politics, rethinking grassroots activism, art and responsibility, and mobilizing the religious community.

Delegates earned their convention seats by registering at least 50 people to vote. The four-day convention included concerts, film screenings, workshops, panel discussion and a platform to vote on which organizers hope will be incorporated into the platforms of political parties across the spectrum.

Numerous speakers took to the stage on the final day of the convention. This is New York City Council member Charles Barron.

  • Charles Barron, New York City council member speaking at the National Hip-Hop Convention in Newark on June 19, 2004. He is currently running for mayor of New York City.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Among those who spoke was New York city council member Charles Barron who is running for mayor of New York.

CHARLES BARRON: I want to say to you, Malcolm X is looking down upon you and he is proud of you today. I want to say to you that Sammy Lou Hayma is looking at you and she is proud of you today. I want to say to you that all of those members of the black opinioned this party that are languishing in prison, they are looking at you and they are proud of you today. I want to say to you that Huey Newton, Bobby Sill, Erica Huggins, they are all proud of you today. Marcus Garvey is proud of you today. We have come a long way and when you start moving, hip-hop is the most powerful movement in the world. It’s in Japan, it’s in Africa, it’s in the Caribbean, it’s in Europe, you got white kids dancing around driving those crazies, following you and when it becomes the political power that it can be, we are going to rock this nation! We’re going to rock this nation. And let me tell you. Let me tell you. In New York City, we are the new majority. 65% of New York City is people of color. It is time for us to take control over New York City. A lot of people said, well, why should they vote? You know, I’m not even talking about whether you should vote for a Democrat or a republican or Kerry or Bush. You know what I think? I think we should fight for a new column in electoral politics called none of the above. None of the above. They should have Bush, Kerry, and none of above. And if none of the above wins, let’s do it all over until we get the right candidate. I’m pushing for none of the above. And in this race, I’m certain none of the above would win. But we have to realize this too. We have to go back to our community. And what we should do is not let people scare us into voting for one over the other. We don’t want to vote for evil anymore. Lesser or more, we don’t want to vote for evil anymore. But what we should do, instead of talking about Bush right now, and yes we’ve got to go, but the Democrats are having a convention in July. And unless they embrace the hip-hop national agenda, then we should hold our vote until they embrace your agenda. Embrace your agenda. Embrace your agenda. We’re tired of talking about Kerry talking about stay the course. Free trade instead of fair trade. Tired of talking to them about reparations as divisive. Affirmative action don’t end and meant it. We’re tired of that kind of talk. This is what’s coming out of the Democratic Party. Tired of them saying that we want to builds more prisons and less schools. We’re tired of that kind of talk. We should tell them unless you pay us our reparations, unless you’re for immigrants coming in and getting their citizenship like everybody else when the white immigrants came, they got their citizenship, when people of color across the border, give them their citizenship, too. Give them their citizenship too. And unless they’re talking about freeing our political prisoners, let’s hold our vote. Unless they’re talking about paying us our reparations, the Jews got paid, the Japanese got paid, it is time for the African to get paid. We need to get paid, too. So, brothers and sisters, don’t let anybody come before you. And remember there’s electoral politic is just a tactic. It is not a panacea. It is not going to bring us to the promised land. Don’t let nobody tell you it doesn’t matter. Some people say it doesn’t matter. I’m not voting. I’m not getting into that. Let me tell you something, the air you believe whether it will be polluted because of environmental racism put an incinerator or sewage plant in your district, it is a political decision. Whether they’re going to pick your garbage up once or twice a week is a political decision. Whether they close your daycare centers, close your after-school programs, don’t hire your children with your money is a political decision. And unless you’re going to go and bust out them brothers and sisters out of jail with your weapons, what you’re not going to do is going to be a political decision. Unless you decide to stick up the American treasury and say give me my reparations, which you’re not going to do, is going to be a political decision.

AMY GOODMAN: New York city council member Charles Barron, addressing the national hip-hop convention that took place this past weekend in Newark, New Jersey. And you are listening to and watching Democracy Now!

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