This article was originally published by WireTap.
August 22, 2008
(Note: This article originally appeared on Zentronix)
Green Party VP nominee Rosa Clemente, a 36-year old hip-hop activist, took some time in Las Vegas at the National Hip-Hop Political Convention last month to talk candidly with us about her historic run, the state of hip-hop activism, the Green Party and its discontents, and how she really feels about Hillary Clinton and Obama. What follows are excerpts from a long interview.
Q: How did this nomination happen for you?
Cynthia called me on July 5th. It happened very quick. I didn’t hesitate because that’s just my personality. But by the time I got to the convention in Chicago, it was such a whirlwind. It was so fast, the nomination, meeting hundreds of Green Party members. It wasn’t ’til I got off that stage that I was like, holy shit. I’m gonna be on a ballot in 40 states. That is so surreal.
In 2001, I had submitted a proposal to a foundation and it was called Hip-Hop Vote. They rejected me and they said that there was no way that a hip-hop generation–no matter how it was being defined–was going to make headway in voting. They could not see young people being so engaged in the electoral political system. And it’s funny because now that’s all they do. Any foundation is trying to fund young people like Generation Vote, Russell Simmons (Hip-Hop Summit Action Network), the National Hip-Hop Political Convention.
Q: How is it that you got involved with Cynthia McKinney?
I came to know about Cynthia McKinney when she had the hearings on political prisoners in Congress. And then she started talking about Tupac and his files and trying to get the files from the FBI. I was in the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and we were working on so much around political prisoners. She started bringing me out to her brain trust as part of the Congressional Black Caucus. She was involved in the State of the Black World with Ron Daniels which I was involved with. And then she brought me out to this big Tupac event in Atlanta with Chuck D. Of course when they got her out of office, she went to Cornell to teach one of those two-week things and she just got so harassed. She got death threats. This was after the September 11 hearings where she was grilling Rumsfeld, after they arrested her–whatever the capitol police did to her. I hadn’t talked to her in a long time. I just know that I joined the Green Party in Brooklyn.