Memphis community activist, the Rev. Kenneth T. Whalum Jr. will speak on hip hop and related societal issues on April 5 at the Howard University School of Divinity.

Whalum’s lecture will also acknowledge the 46th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. King was killed on April 4, 1968 in Memphis.

“I believe Memphis owes the world a debt that we are delinquent in paying, and I don’t think even the election of a Black President has been as effective as it would have been had Memphis obeyed the instructions Dr. King gave Black folks in his Mountaintop sermon in Memphis on April 3, 1968,” Whalum said in a statement.

In that harrowing sermon Whalum said, that Dr. King admonished Blacks to support Black-owned businesses, to withdraw their financial support from institutions that do not reinvest into the Black community and also cautioned black clergy not to become self- absorbed.

“Basically, we’ve failed on all three counts,” Whalum said.

Many in today’s society cite hip hop music and its culture as a stumbling block to urban America’s progress but Rev. Whalum disagrees.

“It is easy to condemn hip-hop for the condition of our society,” Whalum says. “But if the church is condemning our own young people for being who they are, what role do we play in making them who they’ve become, where they are going and what alternatives do we have to offer them?”

Whalum, author of the book Hip Hop is Not Our Enemy, is a graduate of Morehouse College, Temple University School of Law and the Memphis Theological Seminary. Born and raised in the inner city of Memphis, Tennessee, Dr. Whalum has dedicated his life to proclaiming social justice for the citizens of Memphis, especially those who cannot speak for themselves: the children.

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