By Kamren Curiel
I have to give props to Cali's newest resident, Chuck D, who led the movement of politically-charged hip-hop in the 80s as front man of Public Enemy, and continues to fight the power today. He helped organize Freedom Now/Operation Skid Row on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday to bring awareness to the ongoing homeless crisis in L.A. and beyond.
The festival was in conjunction with the release of a book he and his wife, Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson, a Black Studies professor at the University of Santa Barbara, contributed to called Freedom Now! The book, a project of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, documents the struggle for housing equality and social justice from Skid Row to South Africa.
"Hip-hop has to make a statement," Chuck D told the VC Reporter. "We cannot have Skid Row be obscured. We have a moral obligation down there. This statement marks our 25th year. Occupy Skid Row is a peaceful protest of power, and hip-hop is trying to make the situation better."
Symbolically held on the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., the festival brought together a huge lineup of old school L.A. hip-hop heads, including Freestyle Fellowship, Lady of Rage, King Tee, Kurupt, and Ronnie Hudson ("West Coast Poplock"). A special R.I. P. went out to Nate Dogg with everyone holding up the peace sign.
In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by the greatest leader this country has ever known:
"We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience." --Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 16, 1963, Birmingham, AL)
Kamren Curiel is a Digital Media Editor at Voto Latino and freelance writer for Remezcla and MTV Iggy. Her column AMP (Art, Music & Politics) profiles artists and musicians that are dedicated to a cause.