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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 June, 2004, 01:25 GMT 02:25 UK
Hip-hop tries to boost black vote
Public Enemy
Public Enemy fought the Power, the Convention seeks to change it
US hip-hop music artists are trying to motivate and mobilise young black voters ahead of this November's presidential election.

The National Hip-Hop Political Convention is the latest event to try to develop a cohesive voting block of young American blacks.

The turnout for African Americans rose by four percentage points to 57% at the 2000 elections.

Some 3,000 gathered for seminars and workshops in Newark, New Jersey.

It is the latest of a series of events being held across the US to encourage a traditionally disenfranchised portion of the electorate to turn out and cast their ballots.

Delegates at the convention were each required to register 50 people to vote.

'Piece of the puzzle'

The convention does not endorse specific candidates or parties, but does aim to increase the number of black politicians in elected office.

"We have no African-Americans in the US Senate," said organiser Angela Woodson, "and that does not make sense to a lot of us in the hip-hop generation in this millennium. We are trying to fix this picture."

Bakari Kitwana, one of the founders of the convention, said the "hip-hop generation" includes blacks born between 1965 and 1984, although it could extend to anyone who likes hip-hop music.

He said that the aims of the convention went beyond this year's election races.

"The 2004 Election Day is just one piece of the puzzle," he said.

One delegate, Hashim Shomari, pointed to a change in attitudes.

"In the 80s, the group Public Enemy would say 'Fight the Power', but we now have to 'Be the Power' to create a different set of circumstances."

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