Music has long been used as a tool in the U.S. civil rights movement to inspire and galvanize people.
The soundtrack of the movement included the stirring voices of The Freedom Singers, Odetta, Nina Simone, James Brown and Bob Dylan.
So it’s understandable that the Southern Christian Leadership Conference would go back to that strategy to reach a new generation and encourage them to get more involved in social justice causes.
The Atlanta-based civil rights organization, once led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., announced Thursday it would launch a hip-hop record label next summer.
The new label is christened Justice HipHop Music. and should be up and running before the SCLC’s 60th annual conference in Washington, D.C. next year.
Music can be a used to influence people in the movement, said Charles Steele, 71, president and CEO of the SCLC.
“Dr. King always used music to motivate people along with his message,” he said.
He refused to say how many people were in the organization or what percentage were under the age of 30.
“I can’t answer that,” he said. “Whatever percentage I would give you would not be accurate. It changes day to day, week to week.”
The new label will also promote music that uplifts and inspires people.
Steele was approached last year by Michelle Simpson, an entertainment and business lawyer; and Sarah Reynolds, an artist management and development consultant, who will co-lead the project.
They’ve established a GoFundMe page to raise money to help fund the project, which will be based in Atlanta. The organizers are also looking to get corporate and individual sponsors.
“Our vision is to introduce the SCLC to a new generation of young activists, entrepreneurs and leaders,” said Reynolds.
So far, $105 has been raised on the GoFundMe page towards the $20,000 goal.
Simpson said the plan is to have the label operating in time for the SCLC’s 60th annual conference in Washington, D.C. next year