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Rev. Lennox Yearwood

Rev. Lennox Yearwood

Posted March 18, 2009 | 02:48 PM (EST)

Ask What You Can Do for Your Hood


Rarely in history have young people been blessed with the opportunity, or the responsibility, to serve as the solution to the crisis at hand.

In this economic decline there perhaps is no other option than to turn the reins over to the next generation. This recession is a mess caused by the mistakes of the old, but the young possess the sole ability to clean it up. If the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act passes in Congress tomorrow, that torch of responsibility shall be passed on.

Thus answering President Obama's call for a greater commitment to volunteerism and fulfilling John Kennedy's demand to give back to the country.

The act (H.R. 1388) more than triples the number of government sponsored volunteer opportunities in America from 75,000 to 250,000, and rewards each volunteer a college scholarship equivalent to the maximum Pell Grant.

Now anyone regardless of race, class, religion or background can be a leader in their own community.

For urban America, this bill can lead to the empowerment of our culture, the "dream" generation. Because it not only provides a chance to improve our country, it is the opening we've waited for to give back to our Hood. That is why I call on hip hop to use this opportunity to sign up, because our streets need help.

In our hip hop culture we walk amongst the poor every day, in some of the worst slums and ghettos found on earth. For us giving back is not about filling some personal void, or being charitable, it's about survival. I know that all too well, the reason why I got involved in policy was civil service.

Back in the day I used to run a homeless shelter. After awhile, though, it wasn't enough just to provide a roof for the homeless or give food to the needy. They kept coming in, every day in worse shape and higher numbers. I had to go from merely putting a bandage on poverty to sewing up the wound for good.

That led me to form the Hip Hop Caucus, and is why we're soon going to be launching Opportunity Corps as a sister to our MPACT program. MPACT will restore hip hop's political clout, while Opportunity Corps will exercise our civic sense of duty.

The GIVE Act allows hip hop to be stewards of our urban environment and shepherds over our flock.

It will directly link high school, out-of-school, and out-of-work youth to the challenges in their own low income, inner-city and minority communities.
In this covenant of volunteerism the country gets our manpower, needed for economic, climate, healthcare, education, and social progress. And as volunteers, our generation will not only get paid a stipend, but will receive training, essential skills, money for college, and a foot in the door for a career path. A path that now has purpose.

Hip hop can breathe life back into the urban community by allowing the GIVE Act to tap into our own potential.

That is why I call upon you to support GIVE, to evolve from civic apathy to social empathy, and turn inaction into action.

Call Congress at 202-225-3121 and tell your representative to vote for H.R. 1388. And tell them you're ready to go to work to give back to the hood.

And check out the Hip Hop Caucus and Americorps to get involved.


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For Future Generations...
Rev. Lennox Yearwood
President, Hip Hop Caucus