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US Representative Maxine Waters to Hip Hop Community

July 15, 2009
Press Release

U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (CA-35) was a panelist at Princeton University's Hip-Hop Symposium on Friday, October 6, 2006.  The event was coordinated by the Princeton student group "Hip Hop: Art & Life" along with the national Center for American Progress.  The panel discussion was designed to explore the role of the hip-hop generation as the youth culture that is in the best position to initiate social change in post-9/11 America.  According to a Princeton senior who was a principle organizer of the event,  the symposium was designed to contrast the four original figures of hip-hop culture—the emcee, the DJ, the graffiti artist and the B-Boy—with the four pivotal figures of social change—the politician, the intellectual, the artist, and the student.

"The hip-hop community is a vast, powerful network of creative and talented trend-setters, who greatly influence culture in the United States," said Rep. Waters.  "During the Civil Rights movement, young people forced this nation to confront racism and segregation.  Today, the hip hop community is similarly positioned to be a force to be reckoned with.  We must create the much needed dialogue to resolve the inter-generational miscommunication and develop strategies to help our communities use the power of the hip-hop culture to create positive change.  The hip-hop culture has produced superstars and millionaires.  The question remains how can the stardom and wealth be used to support education, civil rights, the elimination of poverty, and the development of political power?"

In addition to Rep. Waters, the other members of the panel included Dr. Cornell West, a Princeton professor and leading scholar; Talib Kweli, the hip-hop artist commonly dubbed "the thinking man's rapper"; Bakari Kitwana, an author and freelance journalist; Rosa Clemente, a hip-hop journalist, activist, and community organizer; and Maria McMath, a Princeton doctoral candidate.  The event was moderated by Black Entertainment Television's Jeffery Johnson. 

The symposium was entirely arranged by Princeton students and was scheduled to coincide with the anniversaries of a number of historical events, namely, the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the fifth anniversary of 9/11, and the 219th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution.