Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, is a minister, community activist and one of the most influential people in Hip-Hop political life. He works tirelessly to encourage the Hip-Hop generation to utilize its political and social voice. Rev. Yearwood is a national leader, recognized for his ability to engage young people in electoral activism. He leads the national Respect My Vote! campaign and coalition. During the 2012 elections, numerous celebrity partners joined the campaign to reach their fan bases, including Respect My Vote! spokesperson, 2 Chainz.
The Hip Hop Caucus has registered and mobilized tens of thousands of young voters to the polls. In 2008, the Hip Hop Caucus set a world record of registering 32,000 people across 16 U.S. cities— the most voters registered in one day. This effort was part of the Hip Hop Caucus’ 2008 “Respect My Vote!” campaign with celebrity spokespeople T.I., Keyshia Cole and many other recording artists, athletes and entertainers.
Rev. Yearwood entered the world of Hip-Hop politics when he served as the political and grassroots director of Russell Simmons’ Hip Hop Summit Action Network from 2003 to 2004. In 2004, he was also a key architect and implementer of three voter turnout operations – P. Diddy’s Citizen Change organization, which created the “Vote Or Die!” campaign; Jay Z’s “Voice Your Choice” campaign; and “Hip Hop Voices”, a project at the AFL-CIO. He founded the Hip Hop Caucus in 2004 to bring the power of the Hip-Hop community to Washington, D.C.
After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Rev. Yearwood established the award winning Gulf Coast Renewal Campaign where he led a coalition of national and grassroots organizations to advocate for the rights of Katrina survivors. The coalition successfully stopped early rounds of illegal evictions of Katrina survivors from temporary housing, held police and government entities accountable over the injustices committed during the emergency response efforts, supported the United Nations “right to return” policies for internally displaced persons, promoted comprehensive federal recovery legislation and campaigned against increased violence resulting from the lack of schools and jobs in the years after Katrina.
A national leader and pacemaker within the green movement, Rev. Yearwood has been successfully bridging the gap between communities of color and environmental issue advocacy for the past four years. Along with a diverse set of celebrity allies, Rev. Yearwood raises awareness and action in communities that are often overlooked by traditional environmental campaigns. Rev. Yearwood’s innovative stance has garnered the Hip Hop Caucus support from several environmental leaders, including the National Wildlife Federation, Earthjustice and former Vice President Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection.