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Russell Simmons
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USA Today recently named Russell Simmons one of the “Top 25 Most Influential People of the Past 25 Years,” calling him a “hip-hop pioneer” for his groundbreaking vision that has influenced music, fashion, finance, television and film, as well as the face of modern philanthropy.

Russell Simmons has been instrumental in bringing the powerful influence of hip-hop culture to every facet of business and media since its inception in the late 1970s. From producing and/or managing such early hip-hop artists as Kurtis Blow, Run DMC, Whodini and the Beastie Boys to signing seminal luminaries like Jay Z, Foxy Brown and Ludacris, Simmons’ groundbreaking vision was crystallized with partner Rick Rubin in the creation of the seminal Def Jam Recordings in 1984, launching the cultural revolution known as hip-hop. Russell Simmons has been the master architect of that phenomenon, envisioning and creating the trends in popular culture. His fashion empire Phat Farm, which begat Baby Phat and Run Athletics, put the definitive stake in the ground for hip-hop clothing and others followed.

His film and television production company with partner Stan Lathan – Simmons Lathan Media – created the wildly successful HBO’s “The Def Comedy Jam,” “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry,” “The Nutty Professor,” the Tony Award-winning stage production “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam on Broadway” and the international hit on MTV, “Run’s House.” Simmons has put his imprint on the financial services industry, as well, leveling the playing field for all to have access to the American Dream with the Unirush Company’s RushCard. In 2006, Simmons broke new ground yet again, becoming the first African American to launch a major jewelry company – Simmons Jewelry Co. (SJC) – with partner and SJC president, Scott Rauch. Major retail chains followed, carrying the company’s collections, now distributed to over 2000 stores.

This past Spring, Russell released a new book entitled Do You! 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success, which combines effective business practices with a spiritual foundation to be the best you can be. The book was a top 4 New York Times Best Seller, and was featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show. And, with Accel Partners’ Jim Breyer, Russell co-funded the Simmons’ founded unique, personalized internet portal for the hip-hop community - Global Grind - with the purpose of connecting young people around the world, a generation that Simmons has strongly encouraged, nurtured and supported, and one that has proven to be more giving, loving and compassionate than the generation before them. Simmons’ newest ventures are two hot clothing collections - Argyle Culture and Atman.

Russell Simmons’ interests extend far beyond the business world, and he spends a great deal of his time and considerable energy working for social, political, and philanthropic causes, pushing hip-hop on to new plateaus of power and relevance. Russell and his ventures are driven by a personal and corporate belief that hip-hop is an enormously influential agent for social change, which could be responsibly and proactively utilized to fight the war on poverty and ignorance. In 1995 he, along with his brothers Danny and Joseph Simmons (Rev. Run of Run DMC), founded Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. The organization is dedicated to providing disadvantaged urban youth with significant exposure and access to the arts, as well as offering exhibition opportunities to underrepresented artists and artists of color.

He is also Chairman of Rush Community Affairs and the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, dedicated to bringing all religions and ethnicities together. The organization’s president is Rabbi Marc Schneier, also head of the World Jewish Congress. Following the historic Hip-Hop Summit Russell organized in June of 2001, he co-founded the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) with civil rights activist Dr. Benjamin Chavis. HSAN’s mission is to harness the cultural relevance of hip-hop music as a catalyst for education advocacy and other societal concerns fundamental to the well being of at-risk youth throughout the United States. HSAN enables artists to use their celebrity to give back to the community. Among HSAN’s major initiatives is helping to spearhead the first changes to the Rockefeller Drug Laws since 1973, orchestrating getting $300 million added back into the New York City education budget, Hip-Hop Team Vote - a 50-city grassroots force that worked throughout 2004 to register and mobilize young voters across the country, as well as three successful years of the “Get Your Money Right” Financial Empowerment International Summits. HSAN has traveled the country and the world implementing over 60 Hip-Hop Summits empowering young people around the issues of education, financial literacy and voting.

In 2006, after a trip to Africa to see how some diamonds were positively affecting the lives of Africans where they are a natural resource, he created The Diamond Empowerment Fund™ (D.E.F.) to help Africans help Africa and sensitize the diamond industry to the plight of the Africans. Simmons Jewelry Co. has created a special collection of jewelry – The Green Initiative – which is giving back to Africa through D.E.F. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Petra Nemcova's Happy Hearts Fund, which gives aid to children throughout the world who are victims of natural disasters.

Russell Simmons is a native New Yorker who attended City College of New York.

Russell and Kimora Lee have two daughters, Ming Lee and Aoki Lee.

Entries by Russell Simmons

How We Fund Our Criminal Justice System

(32) Comments | Posted July 12, 2016 | 5:00 PM

How are your local courts and jails funded? If your community is like most of America, chances are the criminal justice system itself has become a revenue collection service - with problematic results.

Every state except Alaska, North Dakota, and DC has increased civil and...

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Cow Poop: An Open Letter To Pope Francis

(53) Comments | Posted April 25, 2016 | 4:07 PM

I want to first thank you for your messages of peace and connection, Pope Francis.

When you visited our American shores not too long ago you breathed new life into not just your followers but as I see it, to everyone who heard the message you brought. My heart was...

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The Nation of Islam and the Anti-Defamation League -- Now Is the Time to Mend Fences

(0) Comments | Posted March 10, 2016 | 3:14 PM

I am a 58-year-old African American man from Hollis Queens, New York. I grew up in a typical lower middle class black neighborhood (the last white family moved out just as we were moving in). Soon after our family made our move into the neighborhood, the heroin epidemic hit.


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Why I Support Hillary Clinton for President

(378) Comments | Posted March 7, 2016 | 12:38 PM

I have always supported the most progressive candidate in the presidential race, every race. Most times I have not endorsed them but have promoted them and their ideas to the rival more centrist candidates who then became our better suited nominee. This election cycle it has has been inspiring to...

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Celebrity Has No Value Unless It Can Support Uplifting Others

(0) Comments | Posted November 10, 2015 | 1:33 PM

When we were growing up in Hollis, Queens, in the 70's, there was not a single person who wasn't affected by the drug epidemic that began to ravage our community. Before President Nixon declared a "War on Drugs" in 1973, black people in America were already feeling the devastating effects...

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Why I March! #JusticeOrElse

(8) Comments | Posted October 2, 2015 | 4:30 PM

20 years ago. 20 years a million men. And women. And children. Gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC answering the call from Minister Louis Farrakhan to come to the nation's capital and show our strength in numbers and unity and remind politicians that our voices would be heard....

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The Girls Matter Too: Addressing the Girls' Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline

(41) Comments | Posted July 9, 2015 | 6:34 AM

It is time to talk about our girls and criminal justice reform. I have devoted many years to fighting for significant reforms to our broken criminal justice system. I have called for an end to mass incarceration because of its devastating impact on men and boys of color. But, like...

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Breaking Down the Extremist Barriers to Tolerance and Understanding

(43) Comments | Posted June 11, 2015 | 8:29 PM

Racism and bigotry can infect the fabric of a community, leading to a slow erosion of its democratic values and ideals. But what factors contribute to the rise of these judgments of character in the first place?

At a time when incidents of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in particular are...

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Governor Cuomo, We've Had Enough!

(38) Comments | Posted April 9, 2015 | 8:13 PM

We marched through the cold snow, the winter nights, the brutal winds, the shivering rain... for justice. For months, we have not let up. We refuse to let the death of Eric Garner be in vain, so we have made demands, organizations joined forces and thousands of young people took...

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Open Letter to Young Black Hollywood: Ending Segregation

(39) Comments | Posted January 28, 2015 | 2:55 PM

There is a story that Elijah Muhammad would often tell about a mule that was chained to a tree for many, many years. Finally, when the mule was unchained, he still didn't leave the tree's side. You may already know where I'm going with this: When I was a young...

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Dear Governor Cuomo, Fix Our Justice System Now!

(14) Comments | Posted January 8, 2015 | 9:04 AM

Dear Governor Andrew Cuomo,

First and foremost, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to you and your family on the passing of your incredible father, Governor Mario Cuomo. I have known you and your family for a very long time, and you have always treated me like one...

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Pat Lynch, You Will Not Wage 'War' on Our Communities!

(210) Comments | Posted December 22, 2014 | 2:42 PM

The horrific murder of two New York City police officers and the attempted murder an innocent woman over the weekend has challenged our collective humanity. There are not enough prayers and condolences we can send to the family of the fallen and the injured, so the best we can do...

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Chris Rock Is a F***ing Genius -- You Already Knew That...

(0) Comments | Posted October 24, 2014 | 12:21 PM

According to the yogis, God gives us all the potential to promote miracles. In the Yoga Sutras (the sacred science book from around 200 A.D. often referred to as the "bible" of yoga), there is a term "tapas," which means hard work, determination and focus. It refers to a disciplined...

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Never Once Have I Imagined My Daughters Ever Going To Prison

(282) Comments | Posted September 17, 2014 | 10:42 AM

Never once have I imagined either of my daughters ever going to prison. Never have I had the image in my head of my children getting finger-printed, photographed and processed by police officers at the local precinct. Never have I imagined Aoki or Ming in an orange jumpsuit walking through...

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The Ferguson Solution

(91) Comments | Posted August 14, 2014 | 9:45 PM

I saw images of Ferguson last night carried across televisions, newspapers and the Internet, and it broke my heart. This all began when an unarmed, black teenager was gunned down by a police officer in broad daylight. Although we do not know all of the details, we have been at...

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For My Daughter and Other African-American Kids

(0) Comments | Posted July 30, 2014 | 11:00 AM

My 11-year-old daughter, Aoki Lee, is headed for the 8th grade already and has been asking Kimora and I for months if she could attend a boarding school in Switzerland. Her dream is to become an investment banker like her her step-father, who happens to be one of the smartest...

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Finally, a Beautiful Open Space for a Conversation About Immigrants!

(3) Comments | Posted June 30, 2014 | 5:45 PM

Early in my career, I wasn't always sure what to do with the newfound fame I got from being a record producer and executive. I was so focused on creating great records (and partying too much), and although I cared about social and political issues, I didn't fully understand how...

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Celebrating Our Oprah: The Queen of Consciousness

(0) Comments | Posted April 16, 2014 | 9:45 AM

Lately I've been out promoting my new book, Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple. From Dr. Oz to Arsenio Hall to Steve Harvey to Dr. Sanjay Gupta to Queen Latifah, tons of other wonderful people have let me sit down with them and talk about the benefits of...

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President Obama, Go Ahead and Dust That Dirt Off Your Shoulders!

(109) Comments | Posted April 4, 2014 | 9:30 AM

I've always believed that the collective prayer of young people can change the world. From the early days of hip-hop to the emergence of the millenials to the power of the Obama presidency, young people have pushed forward a much more progressive agenda than any generation prior. When young people...

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17 Days Left to Change the World!

(0) Comments | Posted March 14, 2014 | 9:58 AM

We knocked on every door we could find to tell our friends and neighbors about a senator from Illinois. We called every one of our family members to ask them to join the campaign. We waited in line until the sun went down and wouldn't leave until we cast our...

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