PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES RESPOND TO OPEN LETTER FROM RUSSELL SIMMONS, DEEPAK CHOPRA AND DR. BENJAMIN CHAVIS
On the eve of Super Tuesday, Russell Simmons and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) call for a massive, unprecedented young voters turnout across America. Recent polls show that young voters are poised to be the determining factor in the twenty-two states that will be holding Presidential primary elections tomorrow. Since 2003, HSAN has been a national leader in youth voter education, registration and mobilization. Its’ Hip-Hop Team Vote program has enabled and encouraged millions of young voters to participate in the electoral process.
Russell Simmons, Chairman of HSAN stated, “The 2008 Presidential Election is the most important of our lifetime. I am so proud that young voters are already weighing in, in record numbers. But tomorrow, on Super Tuesday, it is now clear that young voters will make the critical difference. That is why today we are using every single resource at our disposal via radio, television, Global Grind and the internet to mobilize the consciousness and the actions of young people to ensure their voice is heard tomorrow.”
On January 17, 2008, Russell Simmons, Deepak Chopra and Dr. Benjamin Chavis addressed an Open Letter to all of the Presidential cand idates, both Democrat and Republican, that focused on issues that are important to young, progressive and independent voters. Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton have responded to the Open Letter. Full cand idates responses to the Open Letter are available on www.hsan.org.
The campaign office of Senator Barack Obama sent to HSAN Obama’s policy statements on the inclusiveness of American democracy, on responding to the challenges of global warming, eliminating poverty, ending the Iraq war and on the importance of Dr. King’s philosophy on the ‘beloved community.’ Senator Obama responded by stating, “Rising poverty is one of the most serious issues facing America today, and I believe that inserting simplistic tag lines or one-dimensional goals are unlikely to be helpful in meeting this challenge. As President, I will build off of my life experiences as a community organizer, civil rights lawyer and elected official to make poverty eradication a top goal of my administration.”
Valeisha Butterfield, HSAN Executive Director, affirmed “As a young voter, I am profoundly aware of the historic opportunity and responsibility that my generation has today. HSAN will work with other national organizations as well as grassroots leaders to maximize our impact.”
Senator Clinton responded in part by saying, “You know, as do Americans throughout our country, that the stakes in this election couldn’t be higher. We face enormous challenges – our economy is sliding into a recession, middle-class families are struggling to make ends meet, our schools are failing our children, and we have a war to end and alliances to rebuild all around the world. The next President must be ready to solve these problems from day one.”
Dr. Benjamin Chavis, President/CEO of HSAN, emphasized, “This is one of the greatest hours in the evolution of hip-hop culture. The music, the fashion, the lifestyle and now the unprecedented civic engagement that translates into millions of new voters is what makes hip-hop the most significant phenomenon in the 2008 election. Hip-hop transcends race and ethnicity and provides a unifying spirit and action to transform America.”