Rapper‚ activist Chuck D urges sound choices

Martin Luther King may have followed the path of nonviolence‚ but that high road should not be mistaken for weakness.That was one of the key messages of rapper−activist Chuck D‚ who told more than 500 students‚ local residents‚ faculty‚ staff and administrators at KSU on Jan. 21 that King had “an essential strength” that put the civil rights leader at the front of social change in America.(For the complete story‚ please click on the headline above.)

Georgia (Jan 22, 2008) — Martin Luther King may have followed the path of nonviolence‚ but that high road should not be mistaken for weakness.

That was one of the key messages of rapper−activist Chuck D‚ who recently told more than 500 students‚ local residents‚ faculty‚ staff and administrators that King had “an essential strength” that put the civil rights leader at the front of social change in America.

“He was no punk‚ people. Dr. King was a radical‚” Chuck D said during a speech at Kennesaw State University’s Jan. 21 observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. “He stood in the face of those who wouldn’t let him‚ or his children‚ have what other Americans had.”

Intelligence‚ Chuck D said‚ is too often derided in America‚ particularly among African Americans who embrace what he called a romance with the “thug life.”

“If you are a thug‚ it’s a one−stop shop toward the prison−industrial complex‚” the 47−year−old hip−hop pioneer said.

Chuck D‚ born Carlton Ridenhouer in New York‚ helped start Public Enemy‚ the groundbreaking music group that has stood at the forefront of politically conscious hip−hop for more than two decades. He continues his role as an activist‚ author and technological pioneer with online music.

Mentioning the upcoming 40th anniversary of King’s assassination in Memphis‚ Tenn.‚ Chuck D said the civil rights leader‚ as well as others in the struggle for equality‚ influenced his childhood.

Chuck D urged the audience‚ many of whom were KSU students and youth from the local community‚ to pursue education and follow a path outside of what mass media puts value on — wealth‚ violence‚ sex and immaturity.

“Don’t become what you see on TV‚” he said. “Choose the film ‘The Great Debaters’ as a model over ‘American Gangster.’”

The event‚ sponsored by KSU’s African American Student Alliance (AASA)‚ also featured joyous music by the KSU Gospel Choir‚ directed by Oral Moses‚ as well as singing of the Black National Anthem‚ “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

After the Bailey Performance Center event‚ many in the audience walked in a commemorative march to the KSU Convocation Center to honor King and other civil rights leaders. The KSU Black Alumni Society held a reception at the Convocation Center.

KSU’s observance of the King holiday is just one of many events of KSU’s 2008 Black history celebration this winter. Another high−profile event includes a Feb. 19 address by former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher. His visit is sponsored by the Siegel Institute for Leadership‚ Ethics and Character.

Other events include AASA’s Black History Pageant on Jan. 31‚ a session on KSU’s Black history on Feb. 7‚ and a Black history bowl on Jan. 22.

On March 20‚ a spoken−word competition will be held in the Leadership Room of the Carmichael Student Center. The Black history celebration wraps up April 11 with a senior citizens’ luncheon at the student center.

A full schedule of events is available online at http://www.kennesaw.edu/stu_dev/msrs/celebration_calendar.shtml.

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 35,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university's vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. A Carnegie-designated doctoral institution, it is one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.

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