GrassRoots Movements

A Message from ClassAction Student Group…

Posted on


We started this site for the Summit because we wanted to set the tone for what this Summit is all about. The 1st Annual Hip-Hop History Month Celebration: Elements of Culture Hip-Hop Educational Summit if no one is aware, is historic. When you stop and think about the student body of Lehman College; the location of Lehman College; and the history of the so-called last boro; the reputation… statistics… and so on and so on… and then being able to boast about being the birthplace of Hip-Hop… Amazing 

Just like Lehman College, the Bronx is home to a diverse mix of cultures and this truth is represented in Hip-Hop Culture. This speaks to the very heart and soul of this Summit. The Elements of Culture Hip-Hop Educational Summit is a celebration of and tribute to Hip-Hop. The goal is not to critique the current state of rap music. This Summit is designed re-educate those in attendance about the True history, True Purpose of Hip-Hop. To re-claim and re-establish that Hip-Hop is for and about our Youth. Their protection in a society hostile to them. Their education in a society hostile to them. Their growth in a society hostile to them. To shout out that Hip-Hop is much, much more than beats and rhymes… And make no mistake the beats and rhymes will be celebrated on this day… but so will the other elements that make Hip-Hop Culture the global phenomenon it has grown to be. 

The Elements of Culture: Hip-Hop Educational Summit also acknowledges the debt owed to Hip-Hop’s 1st International Hip-Hop Awareness Organization – The Universal Zulu Nation. 

How can there be a Hip-Hop History Month Celebration anywhere that does not acknowledge and reach out to the Universal Zulu Nation. With chapters all over the world, The UZN has made manifest its vision of Planet Rock. Hip-Hop’s global reach and influence is in large part due to the UZN. The bridging of Cultures: Black, Brown, Red, Yellow and White worldwide. The awakening of Higher Consciousness, Self Expression and Creativity that like the Knowledge of our Ancient Ancestors, told us who we were, who we are and who we could be – Knowledge of Self, of our Communities, our People… The Universal Zulu Nation is the Foundation of Hip-Hop. And as we bear witness to Hip-Hop entering institutions of Higher Learning… So must its Foundation. The Universal Zulu Nation and all Pioneers of the Culture we claim identifies who we are. 

We have already learned the lesson of no longer Being the Ones who control, document, archive, distribute, lay claim – OWN what we create. Look at the world today and everywhere we look, we can see the effects of mis-education. Our Ancient Knowledge being used to enslave us instead of Enlighten us. Where’s the Universal Knowledge, Wisdom, Understanding, Peace Luv, Justice, Equality etched in stone by the Ancients. Where’s the Science, Mathematics, Critical Thinking skills of the Ancients? Their Lyrical Prose and dexterity… Get it?…lol…

So, are we once again going to bare witness of the effects of having what we created being controlled, documented, archived, distributed, lay claim – OWN by others? Harvard, Yale, Cornell, USC and so many institutions of higher education are benefiting from the addition of Hip-Hop Educational programs… Why shouldn’t Lehman benefit from a Hip-Hop Pedagogical Program. 

Lehman College is special because it is an institution of Higher Learning right here in the Bronx, not far from Sedgewick Ave. Come on…That’s why this Summit is important. Just like the Bronx, just like Hip-Hop, it is a collective of diverse individuals, diverse culture, that so beautifully and uniquely blend into this One amazing entity all its Own. 

On Friday November 8, we come together to celebrate Lehman, the Bronx and Hip-Hop Culture. We honor and pay tribute to our Elders DJ Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa for laying the foundation; and we show and prove the Power of Hip-Hop Pedagogy… 

This is also the spirit of this group. We are here to celebrate Hip-Hop Culture. We are here to exchange Knowledge… elevate social, political awareness and most importantly have fun… Its Hip-Hop… its Life…


Meet This Year’s Keynote Speaker… Toni Blackman

Posted on

toni Blackman

Poet, Educator, Author, Actress, Lyricist, Songwriter, Producer, and Hip-Hop/Musical Ambassador to the U.N…. Toni Blackman is this year’s Keynote Speaker for the 1st Annual Hip-Hop History Month Celebration: Elements of Culture Hip-Hop Educational Summit.  

Toni Blackman is a cultural ambassador and an advocate of improvisation. Her experiences as a diplomatic worker enable her to move through various communities (the arts, political circles, international gatherings, youth groups, academia, and the music industry) with ease. As America’s first Hip-Hop Ambassador, her work has consistently communicated that hip-hop is the international platform to position the US as a good global citizen.

Blackman has traveled and worked in 30 different countries including Senegal, Ghana, Botswana, Swaziland, Ivory Coast, the DRC, Brazil, South Africa, Angola, and a host of places in Europe. Her diplomatic work encompasses peace and reconciliation, literacy, HIV awareness, and gender violence prevention. Highly respected as the founder and director of Freestyle Union, a cipher workshop that uses free styling as a tool to encourage social responsibility, Blackman’s work has held great influence in the world of hip-hop activism. This former Echoing Green Fellow has also been a fellow with the Soros Foundation’s Open Society Institute. A great deal of Blackman’s creative organizing efforts involved the Freestyle Union and its woman-centric initiative Rhyme Like a Girl, which launched in partnership with Girls, Inc., and later partnered with the New School University.

Toni Blackman has transformed her passion for creativity and improvisation into a powerful presentation on “getting open,” being centered, and harnessing one’s own personal power from the inside out. She has performed and spoken at the Aspen Institute Summit in Oman, at the prestigious Pio Manzu International Conference in Italy, during the World Cup at the ManUp Summit in South Africa, and for the FORD Foundation and City Xpo Big Ideas Conference in Virginia. She has led workshops and trainings for the NBA, Craigslist Foundation events, Julliard, Ross School of Business-UM, Smithsonian Museum, Harvard, Girl Scouts “Beyond Bars” program for incarcerated mothers, Latin American Youth Center’s Gang Violence Prevention, MDGFive UN program for Maternal Health, and Institute for Policy Studies. A former adjunct professor of hip-hop at Binghamton University and a visiting professor at University of Michigan, Blackman is currently a judge for the US Department of State’s American Music Abroad program.

She toured Southeast Asia with Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Musical Ambassador Program and has shared the stage with the likes of Erykah Badu, Mos Def, The Roots, Wyclef, Dougie Fresh, Wu Tang Clan, GURU, KRS One, Bahamadia, Dead Prez, Boot Camp Clic, Me’Shell NdegeoCello, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, Jill Sobule, James “Blood” Ulmer, Vernon Reid, Youssou Ndour, and even Rickie Lee Jones. Her first book, Inner-Course, was released in 2003 (Villard/Random House). Toni Blackman is available for performance workshops, lectures, inspirational talks, and small group and private coaching.

cited from: