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York College welcomes 4th hip-hop summit

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A hip-hop invasion is coming to York College, bringing more than 2,500 teens together with rap performers, recording industry executives, politicians, and community and religious leaders.

The National Hip-Hop Youth Summit is scheduled to take place at the Jamaica campus Friday, featuring a day of discussions on the social, political and economic concerns of today’s youth.

Teenagers will be able to talk to their community, religious, and cultural leaders in workshops covering politics, sex, drugs, violence, AIDS, education, prison reform and business opportunities.

“The purpose of the summit is to specifically address the social, political, and economic concerns of your youth,” said Charles Fisher, founder and chairman of the Jamaica-based Hip-Hop Youth Summit Council, which organized the event. “We want them to voice their opinion on issues that affect conditions in their school, home and community so that we can collectively develop concrete solutions to their problems.”

Invited speakers include area politicians such as U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans), state Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans), and City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), although all elected officials were invited to the summit, said Randy Fisher, director of special projects for the Hip-Hop Youth Summit Council. The Rev. Al Sharpton and Johnny Cochran were also invited, he said.

Hip-Hop industry leaders such as Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Hollis-born Russell Simmons, Master P., Will Smith, Jay-Z, former Queensbridge resident Nas, and Ja Rule and RUN DMC, who are also from Hollis were expected to attend, Fisher said.

Hip-Hop Youth Summit Council was founded in 2001 to give young people a stronger voice in the hip-hop movement.

“We started the youth council to get to the kids involved,” said Randy Fisher, the council’s director of special projects. “They’re tired of the negative images and the industry marketing them to the youth.”

The council was founded by Charles Fisher, Randy Fisher’s father. The senior Fisher worked with non-profit groups for 25 years before helping to launch the careers of performers such as R. Kelly, former southeast Queens resident LL Cool J and the Lost Boyz.

This is the fourth summit the council has planned, Randy Fisher said. Both the council and the summit are based on the idea that the hip-hop movement can be used as a vehicle to get young people involved in their community and government, said Charles Fisher.

“Our theme this year is ‘Youth Empowerment Through Hip-Hop,’ the greatest international cultural phenomenon ever established,” he said. “Its music, fashion, dance, art and speech transcend cultural, ethnic, religious and racial backgrounds.”

The council has launched programs like the “Game Over” anti-drug campaign, the “Read to Succeed” literacy campaign, the Artists Against AIDS project, and the Hip-Hop Voter Education project.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 138.

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