Celebrating the re-election of President Barack H. Obama and the hip hop culture influence on politics, stars lined the green carpet, in place of the classic red one, leading into the Harman Center in Washington, D.C. for the second Hip Hop Inaugural Ball Sunday night.
Dressed in their finest threads, the likes of 2 Chainz, Swizz Beats, Lil’ Mama, Meek Mills, and many others could be seen working the cameras as they came together to honor the best in the music industry and celebrate on the eve of the 57th Presidential Inauguration.
Though the night was a who’s who of major players in the entertainment business, the celebrities were not to be outdone by the many human rights activists that showed up in high fashion to support the continued growth of hip hop and its influence on politics.
“Hip hop is about social change and culture change,” said Dr. Benjamin Chavis, longtime human rights activist and president of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN), which helped sponsor the event. “I think a lot of young people went to the polls in record numbers to vote for the president.”
Chavis was recognized at the event for the work he has done with HSAN and said that in the next four years African Americans will have to do much more when it comes to taking an active role in the politics that make change.
“It’s about more than winning the election- it’s about winning the recovery of our communities, winning the economic development of our communities, and saving historical black colleges and universities,” Chavis told the AFRO.
The festivities were hosted by long-time television personality LaLa Anthony, wife of Carmelo Anthony, and Terrance J, of BET’s “106 and Park.”
“I’m floating and happy to be here to witness everything. Moments like this you never forget for the rest of your life,” said LaLa Anthony when asked about hosting the event and seeing Obama take a second term. “When someone asks ‘where were you on that day?’ you know exactly where you were and what you were doing,” she told the AFRO in a stunning Lily Rubin gown.
Lifetime achievement awards were handed to legendary rapper MC Lyte and the “Human Beat Box,” Doug E. Fresh who made an appearance on stage. John Legend also snagged the Humanitarian Award.
Author, activist, and professor Dr. Michael Eric Dyson told the AFRO that hip hop has been a guiding force for him for decades.
“Hip hop has been a part of my life since it became an above ground phenomenon,” said Dyson, who has written books on hip hop culture, and rap artists Nas and Tupac. “I knew what it was in 1979 and we’ve been riding together ever since then. It has been incredibly important to my own development and my expression intellectually of ideals and values society should embrace.”
Dyson said in the next four years he hopes to see education disparities between “people in the suburbs and people in the ‘hood” diminished. He also said he hopes to see the” over incarceration of Black and Brown people stopped and we want to see poverty diminished.”
The nonpartisan organization Voto Latino was recognized with an award for their work engaging the Latino community in the political process and raising awareness of issues affecting their demographic.
Actress Rosario Dawson, chairwoman of Voto Latino, said there are many issues facing Americans in the next term, including the draw down of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“The top ones for the Latino community are immigration reform, health, and education reform,” she told the AFRO.
“We should not be fighting for low-skill jobs; we should be competing for high-skilled jobs that are less open to ordinary Americans.”
She said there are a lot of things that need to be addressed, “and from everything I’m hearing they are hitting the ground running and taking on all of it.”
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