In the midst of one of the most passionate and pivotal elections in history, as the early returns are coming in, the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN), the organization co-founded by Russell Simmons and Dr. Benjamin Chavis which has spent the past 18 months dedicated to inspiring and mobilizing young people to go to the polls, is witnessing the fruits of its labors today – long lines of young voters.
In April of 2003, HSAN launched its Hip-Hop Team Vote Youth Voter Initiative at a Hip-Hop Summit in Detroit with Eminem and Nas. Its Philadelphia Summit in August of 2003 was the first Summit to directly link youth voter registration to a celebration of hip-hop culture. Since then, through 26 Summits around the country, HSAN has been registering young people to vote in conjunction with a variety of grass roots partners in each of its Summit cities. Its recently launched Hip-Hop Team Vote GOTV Bus Tour, which over the past month has hit 26 cities with such hip-hop artists as Jim Jones and the Diplomats, Ludacris, Jay-Z, P. Diddy, the G Unit, Ying Yang Twins, Freeway, Layzie Bone, Loon, MC Lyte, Styllion, Miss Jade, Mr Cheeks, Luther Campbell, and Coo Coo Cal, culminating with buses in Miami and in Philadelphia, helped to organize Election Day events that supported its youth oriented GOTV efforts. In Miami, superstar recording artists Missy Elliott and Tweet came out and helped young people to vote. In Philadelphia, Russell Simmons and his brother Reverend Run of Run DMC descended upon the Famous Deli with Philly Mayor John Street, addressed 4000 ACT volunteers at the Wachovia Center and visited the Strawberry Mansion polling site where crowds of young people had gathered to vote.
From its vantage point, HSAN is very encouraged by the youth turnout at the polls today and that sentiment is being echoed by others. On CNN this evening, Senator Ted Kennedy commented on the record number of young people who have come out to vote in this election. Sharif Street, son of Philadelphia Mayor John Street, who has been monitoring youth voter turnout in his city, stated, “Today marks the highest youth voter turnout ever in the city of Philadelphia. It was the youth vote that made the difference here today.” In the cities visited by its Bus Tour, including St. Louis, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Jacksonville and Miami as well as other cities across the nation, long lines of young voters is also being reported.
Russell Simmons, HSAN Chairman, exclaimed, “We have shown today that voting is now cool in the hip-hop community. After today, politics in America will never be the same. Young people will help determine who will be the next President.”
“Millions of young people went to the polls to vote their interests and we’re pleased that hip-hop contributed to what will possibly be a record turnout today,” declared Dr. Benjamin Chavis, President/CEO of HSAN.