Join us for the first annual Dolla Day featuring Ty Dolla $ign & Friends on September 25th!
Join us for the first annual Dolla Day featuring Ty Dolla $ign & Friends on September 25th!
On Thursday, August 4th, Vic Mensa and Joey Purp had The Roxy turnt all the way UP! Los Angeles was the second-to-last stop on their 11 city “Back With A Vengeance” tour. Vic Mensa has been making hip hop headlines in 2016 and there’s good reason why. He’s passionate about the music he releases, but more importantly, the messages in each song.
We had a great team of volunteers who walked up and down the line of fans registered to vote or, if they were already registered, pledge to vote this November. Our team stationed at the voter registration table inside The Roxy, were personally thanked by Vic Mensa. As he was prepping for sound check, he came over to the table, and the first thing he said was that he wished we were on all the tour dates with him. Encouraging people to use their voting power is important to Vic, and it resonated throughout the show. Vic made a call to action in the middle of the show, asking his fans to vote this Fall. It was a powerful, memorable moment.
As we met with fans, there was a young lady in particular named Stephanie who made me realize something important: I helped her register to vote for her first eligible election…. EVER! She was so excited to register with us. The fact that the Hip Hop Caucus is going to help her (and many others we have registered this year) participate in their first voting experience, makes it that much more worthwhile to do the work we do. Because of us, she will have a voice through her vote!
There was another young man who had voted earlier this year while living in Chicago, but hadn’t had the chance to re-register in California so he could vote here in November. Because of our presence at the show, he was able to see an awesome concert AND re-register to vote in the state of California! Double win.
And, then there was Devon who was so appreciative to see us at the concert getting people engaged in the importance of voting. She said she had been waiting to see something like this at a show because it’s so necessary, especially with the upcoming election, to get as many Americans as we can to commit to their civic responsibilities.
Vic’s set was energetic, filled with passion AND purpose. He performed “16 Shots” twice (a song about the murder of Laquan McDonald’s), “U Mad” (who features the infamous Mr. Kanye West), “Free Love” (a song in support of the LGBTQ community and honoring those killed in the mass shooting in Orlando), and his crowd-favorite single “New Bae”. He also performed the self-titled EP track “There’s A Lot Going On” (release in collaboration with Roc Nation and Respect My Vote!). Just before he performed “Shades Of Blue” ( a song about the tragedy in Flint, Michigan) he gave a special shoutout to the Hip Hop Caucus and the Respect My Vote! Campaign. He told the crowd about what a major key it is to get out and vote: “This is a power that you HAVE to use ‘cause right now, we’re at the middle of a crossroads. It’s like, one decision as a nation could really lead to the end of everything. So, choose wisely.”
Vic stands out to me as an artist in today’s social media-driven society because he truly cares about the important issues we are facing. That’s exactly why we, the Hip Hop Caucus, knew he would be the PERFECT spokesperson for this year’s Respect My Vote! campaign.
The recent tragedies in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Texas and Louisiana now account for more than a third of the 31 police murders by gunfire in the U.S. this year. Last year, there were 39 murders of police officers by gunfire, down from the previous year, as well as historically. In 2005 there were 53 murders of police by gunfire; in 1995 – 70 murders; in 1985 – 74 murders; and in 1975 – 143 murders. In other words, these recent years are the safest years in history to be a cop.
With a city in mourning, this might be the worst time to impose statistics and a tone of rationality. However, we need to be aware of the potential narrative that will try to bend problems associated with gun culture into a larger, movement unassociated to justify the inequity of the criminal justice system towards Black people.
This past May, Governor John Bel Edwards signed the “Blue Lives Matter” bill into law, making Louisiana the first state in the nation where public safety workers are considered a protected class under the hate-crime law. In many states, hate crime laws call for additional penalties for those convicted of crimes targeting victims on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion. Targeting police officers, firefighters and emergency medical service personnel now fall under Louisiana’s hate crime law.
“Blue Lives Matter” legislation is a distraction from the over-policing of Black and Brown people and wastes time focusing on a non-existent problem, instead of addressing the real problem of police bias and racial profiling. While the population of Baton Rouge is over 50% Black, two-thirds of the police department is White. The police department has a history of mistreating its citizens. So much so, that the Baton Rouge police department has been under a federal consent decree since 1980–and has had more than 30 years to improve its minority recruiting. ‘Blue Lives ‘ Advocates argue criticizing the police fosters animosity towards law enforcement.
Doesn’t a killing of an unarmed Black person also foster animosity towards law enforcement? The power and prevalence of smartphones and social media allow us to document and watch unarmed Black people die in real time. Where is the support for “Black Lives Matter” legislation? What laws protect the Alton Sterlings in Louisiana?
Unfortunately, there are no easy answers or quick fix solutions. What can we do now?
DEMAND President Obama issue an “Executive Order” that compels the Department of Justice to issue uniform police guidelines and standards that must be adhered to by police departments across the nation. This includes training, conduct, recruitment, use of lethal force, traffic stops, racial profiling, body cameras, and the prosecution of misconduct by police officers.
We can register to vote. We can vote. We can show up at the polls and elect officials who are committed to ending brutality by holding people accountable. Voting local matters. Join Hip Hop Caucus in the #RespectMyVote movement. #ElectoralRevolution
If you are living in Baton Rouge, you should know on November 8, 2016, every East Baton Rouge city councilperson (all 12) are up for re-election. Also the mayor, sheriff, one Senator and, two Congresspeople will be on the ballot. If you don’t live in Baton Rouge, register or pledge to vote for people who will act. Do your research on each candidate and decide the immediate impact they will have once elected into office. Your vote matters!
And lastly, continue to keep your smartphones charged.
Document. Report. Ignite change. #RespectMyVote #StayWoke
Posted by: Lisa Fager, Director, Public Policy and Solutions
The data regarding police casualties presented in this blog was obtained from The Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc., and analyzed by Dr. Ivory A. Toldson, for the Facebook Post, “An Honest Prayer for Baton Rouge, Louisiana.”
Charlamagne Tha God, is a national radio and television personality. He is a co-host of the nationally syndicated radio show The Breakfast Club with DJ Envy and Angela Yee and stars in MTV’s Guy Code and Girl Code, and is a VJ on The Week In Jams with DJ Envy and Sofi Green. And in 2015 Charlamagne began hosting the MTV2 show Uncommon Sense.
Charlamagne is known for his often edgy and outspoken personality and Respect My Vote! is excited to embrace his passion for truth and for being a voice for the people.
Past Respect My Vote! spokespeople have included 2 Chainz in 2012 and T.I. in 2008. Charlamagne, like T.I. and 2 Chainz, is someone with a felony record. Ex-offenders are able to vote in almost every state, and a major goal of Respect My Vote! is to end the myth that ex-offenders cannot vote. Charlamagne is not afraid to use the voice he has been blessed with. Millions appreciate his realness and authenticity. And we are excited about that dynamic which he is bringing to Respect My Vote! 2016.
Charlamagne Tha God is the first of many spokespeople who are joining Respect My Vote! for the biggest campaign yet. We look forward introducing artists, entertainers, athletes, and so many more, who support our community and are passionate about young voters exercising their right to be heard in our democracy.
The date has passed for our National Virtual Town Hall to discuss our long-term Trayvon Martin response, post Zimmerman verdict. It was a very powerful Town Hall event, with nearly 1,800 people from around the country participating via phone. Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, Uncle Bobby, uncle of Oscar Grant, and a number of phenomenal and diverse Hip Hop generation leaders spoke during the Town Hall. Please check out the recap of the Town Hall, including audio of the full Town Hall, and audio clips of each speaker. You can also check out the event Media Advisory.
We have returned this page to providing an outline to our long-term organizing plan pertaining to gun violence, racial profiling, and the justice system:
After the acquittal of George Zimmerman, we cried for the deep injustice we witnessed. Now, in the days following the verdict, we are out in the streets, demonstrating, marching, chanting, sharing the experience publicly, and making sure the rest of the country and the world sees that we will not be silent. Although the marching in the streets, by necessity of the demands of our daily lives, will die down, our resolve to fulfill the promises we have made to fight for justice for Trayvon Martin and all the young lives we have lost to gun violence, racial profiling, and police violence, wont.
The Hip Hop Caucus’ grassroots and national leadership has put forth a long-term organizing plan, honoring our collective promise to continue to the fight for justice, and for civil and human rights in the 21st century. Below is the outline for that plan. Register for the July 31st Town Hall to discuss it in more detail.
In coalition with our civil rights partners, we are calling for the Department of Justice to open a Civil Rights case against George Zimmerman, for racially profiling, stocking, and taking the life of Trayvon Martin. We are weighing in with Attorney General Eric Holder. A number of our partners are circulating online petitions to the Department of Justice, including the NAACP and Color of Change. We don’t want to duplicate efforts, so we encourage you to sign one of these petitions.
Honoring the too many young lives lost to gun violence, which are disproportionately lives of young Black men, we are working long-term for changes to our laws on these fronts:
50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
August 28th is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. This will be just six weeks after the Zimmerman Verdict, and we will mobilize for this historic anniversary, lifting up the memory of Trayvon Martin by calling for justice.
On Saturday, August 24th, we are organizing a major march on the National Mall in Washington, DC, with our partners in the civil rights movement. We encourage you to join us in DC.
On Wednesday, August 28th, the official anniversary, we are asking folks around the country to host “Freedom Parties” in their cities to bring people together locally to discuss what our movement for civil and human rights needs to look like for the next 50 years. Get involved in these mobilizations here.
Trayvon Martin Foundation
Join with the Trayvon Martin Foundation, which was established by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin in March 2012, to create awareness of how violent crime impacts the families of the victims, and to provide support and advocacy for those families. The scope of the Foundation’s mission is to advocate that crime victims and their families not be ignored in the discussions about violent crime, to increase public awareness of all forms of racial, ethnic and gender profiling, educate youth on conflict resolution techniques, and to reduce the incidences where confrontations between strangers turn deadly. Get involved with the Trayvon Martin Foundation here.
Since Tuesday, July 16, young people under the leadership of the Dream Defenders, have been conducting a sit-in of Gov. Rick Scott’s office in the Florida State Capitol. The Dream Defenders are calling on the Governor to convene a special session of the legislature to enact the Trayvon’s Law to repeal Stand Your Ground, ban racial profiling, and end the school-to-prison pipeline in Florida. Get involved with the Dream Defenders movement here.
We will hold our elected officials accountable to our justice agenda. 2014 marks mid-term elections, where Members of the U.S. Congress and Senate are up for re-election, state legislators are up for re-election, Governors, Mayors and Judges are up for re-election. “Respect My Vote!” our voter registration, education and get-out-the-vote campaign will be in full force and we will need your help.
We will be asking the candidates where they stand on racial profiling, gun reform, “Stand Your Ground” Laws, and police brutality, and sharing that information with young voters, so they can make informed decisions at the ballot box. We will also be sharing information about how those in office now have voted on these issues during their time in office.
Our communities are dealing with deep hurt, that too often we aren’t able to address or intentionally heal from. Changes in policy, increasing our political power, changing the public narrative about our communities through mobilization, are all critical pieces to creating the possibility of a better future for our children. But at the most basic level, we must heal from the pain of too much loss of life, especially young life, in our communities. We also must work on greater unity among our communities, based on an understanding of our collective history. To this end we are focusing particularly on projects and initiatives that advance healing and unity.
Sybrina Fulton spoke beautifully and fiercely during our Town Hall about how we all need to stay engaged in this movement for peace and justice for our children.
On July 31, 2013, the Hip Hop Caucus held the Hip Hop National Virtual Town Hall: Our Trayvon Martin Response to discuss our long-term organizing plan in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012.
We were joined by Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin and co-founder of the Trayvon Martin Foundation, and Uncle Bobby, uncle to Oscar Grant. Grammy nominated recording Artist Raheem DeVaughn spoke, and award winning, internationally aclaimed poets jessica Care moore, and J. Ivy performed powerful spoken word pieces. The Dream Defenders joined us, from the state capitol in Florida. Florida State Senator Dwight Bullard, Hip Hop journalist and activist Davey D, and Hip Hop Caucus Leaders Brandi Williams, Dr. Roger Mitchell Jr., and Liz Havstad, all spoke to various issues and strategies for our generation. Rev Yearwood moderated the Town Hall and kept us focused on a long-term holistic community response. A full listing of speakers and how to reach them over social media, is below, along with audio recordings of their remarks during the Town Hall, just scroll down.
Nearly 1,800 people joined this virtual Town Hall over the phone, from around the country. For over two hours, folks listened to a diverse set of voices and leaders. We laid out short- and long-term actions, and an overall plan to address gun violence, racial profiling, and injustice within our justice system. A written outline of our plan is here.
It is well worth your time to listen to the full Town Hall or specific speakers, and please stay involved with the Hip Hop Caucus, follow us @HipHopCaucus.
jessica Care moore is an internationally renowned poet/ publisher/ activist/ rock star/ playwright and actor. She is a five-time Showtime at the Apollo winner. She is featured on Nas’ “Nastradamus” album and was a returning star of Russell Simmon’s HBO Series, Def Poetry Jam. jessica performed a beautiful spoken word piece following remarks from Sybrina Fulton and Uncle Bobby. Follow @jessicaCaremoor.
J. Ivy is an artist, a poet, a producer. He is a Grammy-winner and a HBO Def Poet under Russell Simmons. He is featured on Kanye’s debut album College Dropout. J. Ivy began the Town Hall feeding our spirit, with an incredible spoken word piece. Follow @J_Ivy.
Sybrina Fulton is the mother of Trayvon Martin. She co-founded the Trayvon Martin Foundation. And she has been such an amazing steward of justice, and representation of strength for all of us. Follow @SybrinaFulton & @TTMFoundation.
Uncle Bobby – everyone simply calls him Uncle Bobby – is the uncle of Oscar Grant. For those that have not seen the film Fruitvale Station yet, go see it! It depicts the story of Oscar Grant, who was murdered by BART police (BART is the subway in the Bay Area), in the most horrific way, at the Fruitvale Station stop. Uncle Bobby and Oscar’s family were a part of huge mobilizations in the Bay Area for justice for Oscar. Visit www.oscargrantfoundation.com.
Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. is President and CEO, of the Hip Hop Caucus. Follow @RevYearwood.
Raheem DeVaughn is a Grammy nominated, R&B singer/song writer. Raheem did a tribute song for Trayvon. He told us about why he was moved to do that song, and also how artists can play a major role in the healing process of that our community is so in need. Follow @Raheem_DeVaughn.
Davey D is journalist and activist who has been telling the stories of the Hip Hop community, when mainstream media wont, for the past couple of decades. Davey D is based out in the Bay Area. His radio show Hard Knock Radio, is an award-winning daily syndicated prime time afternoon show focusing on Hip Hop culture and politics, and is probably the best way to get to know Davey D. Follow @MrDaveyD.
Phil Agnew is Executive Director of the Dream Defenders. The Dream Defenders are sitting-in in the Governor’s office, demanding that the Florida legislature comes back into session to pass a Trayvon Law. Follow @PhilUnchained & @DreamDefenders.
Dwight Bullard is a Florida State Senator. He represents Miami in the Florida Senate. He is of the Hip Hop generation. He was a public school teacher before being elected to office. Follow @DwightBullard.
Brandi Williams is coordinator of Hip Hop Caucus Charlotte, and is a public relations professional. Liz Havstad is Director of Civic Engagement and Strategic Growth for the Hip Hop Caucus, and Dr. Roger Mitchell Jr. is coordinator of Hip Hop Caucus Newark and Chief Medical Examiner in Newark, NJ. Brandi, Liz, and Dr. Mitchell speak to Hip Hop Caucus’ mobilization and policy efforts, and how to get involved. Follow @mizzbea2u, @lizhavstad, and @rmitch_jr.
Today is the BIG DAY! Now its time to exercise your right in our great democracy. Get to your polls and cast your vote today!
Here is a link to find your POLLING PLACE – https://2014.votinginfoproject.org/
Here is a link with info for your ELECTION PROTECTION – http://www.866ourvote.org/
If you have any problems at the polls, you can call 1-866-OUR-VOTE and they can help answer your questions.