Hip-Hop Artists Work on Voting Drive

By | January 8, 2004 at 12:00 AM

Some of the biggest names in hip-hop are stepping up their drive to register young people to vote with a radio campaign that could reach more than 2 million listeners a day.

The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, founded by mogul Russell Simmons, announced its “One Mind. One Vote.” partnership with syndicated radio personality Doug Banks at a news conference Wednesday. The new radio campaign will launch Jan. 19 in Times Square.

“Radio is the drumbeat of our community,” said Dr. Benjamin Chavis, the hip-hop group’s president and chief executive.

The nonpartisan network hopes to register 2 million voters in 2004 and 20 million over the next five years by reaching out to young hip-hop fans and holding registration drives at concerts and other events.

Simmons’ brother Joseph, better known as the Rev. Run of Run DMC, is lending his celebrity to the cause.

“I believe that Russell Simmons’ job in life is to pull people together,” he said Wednesday. “I believe that we’ll get 2 million more in 2004.”

Banks will air public service announcements featuring Simmons and other celebrities, and will register voters at a series of live concerts aired on his morning show, which reaches more than 2 million listeners a day on the ABC Radio Network.

Chavis said the group is not endorsing any specific candidate or platform.

“The more inclusive the political process, the better,” he said. “We believe if young people are engaged, you’ll see positive results.”

The campaign also will create a trackable database of people who register. “We’re going to stay in touch with them and make sure they go to the polls,” Chavis said.

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