Last week, Celebs Gone Good joined some of rap and R&B’s most influential artists – like T.I., Ciara, and Lil’ Mama – in Philadelphia. But comparing bling wasn’t on the agenda. Instead, the stars came together to inspire young people to register to vote and to be more involved with the Presidential primaries and upcoming November election.
The April 20 event, sponsored by the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, took place two days before Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primaries, in which 18 to 29 year-olds comprised 12 percent of the electorate (half of which were 18 to 24 year-olds). Youth voter registration was up 80% over previous years.
CGG began the day in NYC with a sighting of Simmons, the so-called "grandfather of hip-hop” at Penn Station. How very cool (and green) that one of the richest men in the urban music world was taking public transportation just like us!
A few hours later, we chatted with Simmons in Philly at Temple University, along with many other attendees, who included Chrisette Michele, Flo-Rida, Guerilla Zoe, DJ Toomp, Lil'X, and Styles P. Since it was a bi-partisan event, the artists’ reps were careful to warn them not to seize the opportunity to stump for a particular candidate (though the formerly pro-Hillary Simmons has publicly endorsed Obama some time ago). Instead, the focus was on inspiring young people to go to the polls as well as youth empowerment.
Young people are creative and have great vision,” Russell said. “Young people have a brighter view of the world. Young people create the revolution." (Why, thank you, Russell!)
Soulful singer Chrisette Michele suggested that each person "take as little as 10 mintues out of everyday to watch CNN or other news programs to learn about the candidates and what they stand for."
As hip-hop hero and self-described “felon several times over” T.I. so powerfully put it: “I personally know the value of having the right to vote and having it taken away from you . . . so take seriously this right and responsibility.” T.I. was ordered to serve more than 1000 hours of community service, among other penalties, after pleading guilty to federal gun charges.
Spoken-word artist Black Ice, meanwhile, urged the young, 300-strong audience to “research the candidates and the issues and try to influence someone who is old enough to vote for the person that you feel addresses the issues that are important to you,” and added: “There is no age barrier in volunteering for you favorite candidate.”
He also recommended that teens "pay attention to local elections for mayors, governors, council members, senators and congress persons and not to wait every four years for the presidential election to get politically active."
Want to register to vote? CLICK HERE!