The Connections Between Hip-Hop and Social Justice

January 18, 2008

Hip-Hop music’s pounding beats and pumping lyrics have become highly regarded by nearly every student in the county. On a chilly January afternoon, Saint Anselm College students, staff, and faculty filled the Cushing Center to hear Dr. Erika Dalya Muhammad present a new spin on this popular topic.

Dr. Muhammad gave a lecture entitled “No Borders: Social Justice, Hip Hop, and Pop” in which she described the strong and enduring connections between hip hop and youth culture. She also discussed how the powerful relationship between them can translate into social activism among today’s youth. She credits her efforts to those who came before her, especially Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who himself often used contemporary cultural references in order to create change.

Calling herself a “cultural worker” and a “creative hybrid,” Muhammad has worked in the Mount Vernon, New York area for years. The town, located just north of the Bronx, has close ties to the hip-hop community; it saw the beginnings of hip-hop and pop culture legends such as Diddy, Mary J. Blige, and Denzel Washington. Therefore, it was the perfect location to “employ the arts as a catalyst for economic development in the area.” And so, the Mount Vernon Hip-Hop Arts Center was born.

Muhammad described her work at the center and her desire to use hip-hop as a medium to encourage more participation in the arts along with civic engagement. She stated that one of her goals is to show young people today that “the world is bigger than they can even imagine.”

Those Were the Days

January 7, 2008

One of the best things about going to school at Saint Anselm College is the feeling that you really belong. Well, unless it’s N.H. primary debate week.

At other schools, students must show their IDs to a cop or security guard before entering their building. At Saint Anselm, students usually enjoy the feeling of a community; we move around campus freely, without having to whip out our IDs at every building.

However, this week was a little different. As all eyes were on our campus, the security increased. So much so that at some points the campus was closed off, completely. Even to us, the Saint Anselm students.

I figured with my all access pass I wouldn’t have this problem of closed off buildings and parking lots. But today I was stopped many times and had to explain that I was working for the college. When it comes to politics even the small college of Saint Anselm becomes locked down.

I’m Within Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

January 6, 2008

Six DegreesTonight, I had the opportunity to meet Viggo Mortensen, an avid supporter for Dennis Kucinich and the famous Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings films. Read more

Life in “The White Hot Center of the Universe”

January 6, 2008

When things started to pick up before the debates on Saturday afternoon, I knew it was going to be an exciting evening. The energy on campus was high and everyone in a few mile radius could feel it. As one reporter told me yesterday, “We are the white-hot center of the universe tonight—and you’re in the middle of it.”

That sentiment certainly echoed true throughout the night. With days of preparation behind me, the moment was finally here. Streams of journalists filed past me to pick up their credentials: everyone from prominent The New York Times reporters, to the managing editor of People magazine, to Japanese public television correspondents. All of them were excited to see not only what the debates held in store, but this whole election. And as someone with a large appreciation for popular culture—it was beyond memorable that I met people who I watch on TV every morning, and people who write for the magazines that I read religiously every week.

Things reached a fever pitch during the time in the spin room. Journalists rushed from the Media Filing Center in Carr Center to the spin room in Stoutenburgh Gymnasium. All eyes were eager with anticipation and all cameras were pointed and ready to click at who would walk through the door ready to “spin” their candidate. You could tell the instant that someone walked in because the cameras and journalists would form an imposing swarm around the person and the cameras would start flashing. Republican candidate Ron Paul’s arrival into the spin room caused an uproar, as did Elizabeth Edwards and Mass. Governor Deval Patrick.

Even though the energy surrounding this event is starting to die down, the fervor for this historic election is still going on. I was asked yesterday by a reporter why I was interested in what was going on if I wasn’t a politics major. I responded that this is an important election for everyone because of the big issues on the table. But more than that, this election is truly history in the making. And as a history major, being even a small piece of that is all that I could ask for. And all of the other people I met and things I experienced was just icing on an already very sweet cake.

More Than a Paycheck

January 6, 2008

Caitlin Patenaude '11 (l) and Lauren Weybrew '08 (r)I’ve spent the past few days working for ABC News and despite the extremely long hours, lack of sleep, and caffeine diet, I would do it all over again. My duties started on Jan. 3, a few days before the debate.

My official title was student runner/press file room assistant. I helped set up the press file room, where more than 700 members of the worldwide media came to watch the debates and work on their stories. I also spent many hours canvassing the “spin room” which you may have seen on TV. It’s where reporters, candidates, and campaign managers collided after the debates to create exciting chaos. I also did some of the less glamorous jobs, like running to Lowe’s and Wal-mart to buy $200 worth of duct tape.

During the actual event, I checked-in media personnel who arrived late and prepped the “spin room” during the turnover time in between the debates. I also got a piece of my 15 minutes of fame, as evidenced from the text messages I kept getting from friends and family telling me that they just saw me on TV!

This morning, I woke up early so the fun could continue. I had the opportunity to attend the taping of This Week with George Stephanopoulos, which aired in the Dana Center. Stephanopoulos interviewed Gov. Mike Huckabee, Gov. Mitt Romney, Sen. John Edwards, and held a round table event with ABC News consultants. Because I didn’t get to actually watch the debates, it was great to hear more from the candidates and see highlights from the main event last night. I also met both Gov. Huckabee and Sen. Edwards, which was a nice surprise.

For me, this experience was about more than just earning money for a few days. I am graduating in May with a history degree and a love of communications and journalism. But I’m currently lacking the all important first job. I was able to interact with people at all different levels of the ABC job-chain and find out what they do, which was very helpful to me because I’m not quite sure exactly what avenue I want to pursue. I worked extensively with the executive director of media relations for ABC, met the publicist for Diane Sawyer, and the people who organize all the ABC affiliate networks.

After I take a few days to reflect on my experience and absorb everything that has happened, I am confident that I will gain not only more direction as to what I want to do in the future, but also some great contacts within the ABC family.

600 Seconds, 1,000 People

January 6, 2008

GAT_6558.jpgABC News’ Susan Mitchell has the formidable task of moving one 500-person audience into the Dana Center Theater while simultaneously moving another audience of the same size and energy level out, in under 10 minutes. Mitchell, along with a group of 24 Saint Anselm College students, will control these two exuberant crowds, playing a pivotal role in the success of these debates.

In this podcast, Mitchell gives an inside view of what it really takes to make such a seemingly impossible task come to life.

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