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Hip-Hop Fridays: The New Jersey Hip Hop Summit

Hip-Hop impressario and Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) Chairman Russell Simmons, Reverend Run of RUN DMC, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, President/CEO of HSAN, Jeff Johnson, HSAN Vice President and a number of hip-hop artists joined New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey, Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer and more than 2,000 high school and college (age) students at the New Jersey Hip-Hop Summit at the War Memorial in Trenton. In addition to the students in attendance, the Hip-Hop Summit was also web streamed to more than 800,000 young people across the state of New Jersey, including many of New Jersey's high schools, universities and community colleges. This is the first statewide Hip-Hop Summit to feature web streaming.

Hip-Hop artists participating in the New Jersey Hip-Hop Summit included Damon Dash, CEO of Roc-A-Fella Enterprises, hip-hop artists Freeway, Layzie Bone, Remy Martin, Lea, Joe Budden, Jim Jones, Amanda Diva from MTV and DJ Skywalker of Power 99, the Philadelphia Clear Channel radio partner. Also participating were Mike Angula, Esq., Executive Director of the Education Assistance Authority and Senator Nia Gill of New Jersey.

"The New Jersey Hip-Hop Summit was another tremendous success and to reach that large number of young people while they are in school in the classroom shows the power of hip-hop in encouraging youth voter turnout," said Russell Simmons.

Attorney General Peter Harvey stated, "I thank Russell Simmons and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network for convening the New Jersey Hip-Hop Summit. The impact of this successful Summit will enhance the education of our youth as well as to encourage them to vote."

HSAN's Hip-Hop Summits around the country are interactive panel discussions about the importance of voting and issues of concern to young voters. According to the HSAN, Summits are designed to foster initiatives aimed at engaging the Hip-Hop generation in community development issues with a special emphasis on voter education and voter turnout.

Damon Dash emphasized, "To be successful you must stay focused and stay on the grind. You have to work hard and not let anyone discourage you. The Hip-Hop vote will make the difference in this years national election."

Jim Jones, CEO of Diplomat Records, commented, "Hip-Hop is about empowerment. We all should go out to the polls and vote in record numbers so that our power will be felt."

A highlight of the Summit was the presentation of a birthday cake to Layzie Bone of Bone Thugs N' Harmony to celebrate his 30th birthday.

Remy Martin, of the Terror Squad's #1 hit "Lean Back", affirmed, "You put in the work and you get the benefits, but you must work for your success. Going out to the polls to vote is a necessary step to help move our community forward."

The New Jersey Hip-Hop Summit was supported by HELP AMERICA VOTE (HAVA) and the Division of Elections. HAVA is the federal law that provides federal monies to assist states in upgrading voting equipment and election procedures to protect the rights of all citizens to vote. New Jersey has been recognized as a national leader in the HAVA effort.

Dr. Benjamin Chavis concluded, "Other states should follow the example that was set today by New Jersey. The response from over 800,000 young people is a tremendous example of why the Hip-Hop vote will make a difference. The New Jersey Summit was the 26th Hip-Hop Summit and we are now moving to launch our National Hip-Hop Team Vote GOTV Bus Tour."

For more information on HSAN, go to

Friday, September 24, 2004

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The views and opinions expressed herein by the author do not necessarily represent the opinions or position of or Black Electorate Communications.

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