Rev Yearwood, our CEO, was the catalyst behind four major young voter mobilization campaigns in 2004 – Russell Simmons’ Hip Hop Summit Action Network; P. Diddy’s Citizen Change organization, which launched the Vote Or Die campaign; Jay Z’s Voice Your Choice campaign; and Hip Hop Voices at AFL-CIO. The Hip Hop Caucus was created in September of 2004, to ensure that this work would grow and be sustained on behalf of young people and the Hip Hop community.
In response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and the failed response of our government, the Hip Hop Caucus was one of the first organizations on the ground in New Orleans. We formed the Gulf Coast Renewal Campaign and advocated for the rights of Katrina survivors.
The Hip Hop Caucus engaged in grassroots organizing with Katrina survivors in New Orleans around the issues facing the community. Town hall meetings were held with elected officials, community members, and Hip Hop artists to find solutions to the problems plaguing the post-Katrina Gulf Coast.
In response to the billions of dollars being spent on the Iraq war while our communities languished, we launched the Make Hip Hop Not War campaign to bring more young people into a movement for peace abroad and at home.
We launched Respect My Vote!, a non-partisan voter registration, and education campaign. In partnership with T.I. and Keyshia Cole and other celebrities, Respect My Vote! mobilized over 700 volunteers, registered 49,500 new voters and made 6,339,107 voter impressions. On Sept. 30, 2008, the Hip Hop Caucus registered over 32,000 people to vote in 16 cities, in one day.
Understanding the disproportionate impacts of climate change on our communities, the Hip Hop Caucus created green awareness campaigns. On August 4, 2009, Green the Block, a partnership with Green for All, became the first national grassroots campaign to be launched from the White House.
We toured 16 cities with Hip Hop artist Drake, we produced a Clean Energy Now! Bus Tour with Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, and we visited HBCUs to discuss climate change and clean energy jobs. In June, in partnership with the National Conference of Black Mayors, we hosted a Green the City Summit that brought 25 mayors to Washington, DC, to meet with members of Congress and the Obama Administration.