Lennox Yearwood : biography
Lennox Yearwood, Jr. is a minister and community activist who is also an influential member of political hip hop. Yearwood currently serves as President of the Hip Hop Caucus, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that empowers young people to participate in elections, policymaking and service projects. Yearwood has led or been involved in a number of high-profile campaigns to engage young voters, as well as working on human rights issues in the Gulf Coast region after Hurricane Katrina.
Early life and education
Yearwood was born in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1969. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of the District of Columbia in 1998 and received a M.Div. degree from Howard University in May 2002. Yearwood was the Student Government President at both schools and was issued an honorary doctorate from Saint Paul University in May 2011. He also served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve as an officer and chaplain.
Yearwood has appeared on CNN, BET Tonight, Al Jazeera, PBS, Fox, MTV, BBC, C-SPAN, and Hardball with Chris Mathews, and has been featured in the Washington Post, The New York Times and Vibe.
Yearwood was a co-creator of the 2004 campaign "Vote or Die" with Sean Combs. He was the Political and Grassroots Director for Russell Simmons' Hip Hop Summit in 2003 and 2004, and functioned as Senior Consultant to Jay Z's "Voice Your Choice" campaign. He served as a Senior Consultant for P. Diddy's Citizen Change, where he provided a 50-state strategy for engaging the hip hop generation in community-building dialogues.
During the 2004 Presidential election, Yearwood, Russell Simmons, and Jonathan Lewis created the "Hip Hop Team Vote Bus Tour." Yearwood is also the founder of Hip Hop Voices, a project of Voices for Working Families (AFL-CIO).
H.R. 2206 protest
Yearwood and others protested the United States Senate passage of the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007 on April 26, 2007. Yearwood was arrested with thirteen other protesters in the Hart Senate Office Building
Yearwood organized "Shut It Down," a hip hop concert at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, calling for the end of torture at the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp and for the camp's closure. The concert featured Dead Prez and several other hip hop artists. Amnesty International and the ACLU were partners in the event.Cities for Progress, (June, 2007)
Hip Hop Caucus
Yearwood is the president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, founded September 11, 2004, on the premise that the hip hop generation is uniquely qualified to address human-rights for the 21st century. Since its founding, the Hip Hop Caucus has developed a database of approximately 700,000 members and has field teams in 48 cities across 30 states.
Respect My Vote!
In 2008, "Respect My Vote!", a national voter engagement campaign, was led by the Hip Hop Caucus and spokesperson, multi-platinum, Grammy Award winning rapper, T.I. together with celebrities such as Keyshia Cole, T-Pain, Young Jeezy and others. The campaign successfully registered voters in 12 states and executed a 20 city Bus Tour to Get Out the Vote the month before the 2008 presidential election.
In 2010, Yearwood and the Hip Hop Caucus revived the "Respect My Vote!" campaign to engage new and young voters in the mid-term elections.
Make Hip Hop Not War
During March and April 2007 the Hip Hop Caucus undertook a sixteen city "Make Hip Hop Not War" national bus tour with hip hop artists, Iraq War veterans, youth leaders, peace and security experts, and members of Congress. Events, rallies and roundtables were held in each city to educate audiences on the costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to motivate young people to take action and have their voices heard. The continuation of the "Make Hip Hop Not War" campaign throughout 2007 focused on calling for Congress to de-fund the War in Iraq; raising awareness about the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for communities in the USA; and exposing the plight of Iraqi refugees in the Middle East as a result of the war.
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