The Mobilization For Education rally on City
Hall in New York City was a complete success today and resulted in the postponement
of the proposed $1.2 billion dollar budget cuts from New York City's public
education system. An all star cast such as Jay-Z,
Russell Simmons, Reverend Run, former Mayoral candidate Mark Greene, the United
Federation Of Teachers, Wu-Tang's RZA and Raekwon, Puff Daddy, Foxy Brown, MTV's
Sway, LL Cool J, Kevin Powell, AllHipHop.com's Grouchy Greg and Chuck "Jigsaw"
Creekmur, Island Def Jam Chairman Lyor Cohen, Motown CEO Kedar Massenburg, Chuck
D., Dead Prez, Dougie Fresh, Dame Dash, JT Tha Bigga Figga, Noreaga and Minister
Ben Muhammad of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network were present to support the
cause of education.
"Our official count was over 100,000. There
were many that still could not get to the actual stage area because of the police
barricades. The hip-hop power movement is alive!" Minister Ben told AllHipHop.com
The rally started to fill up around 1:45 P.M.,
with about 1,000 kids gathering in front of City Hall. Eagerly anticipating
the arrival of the rally's most popular patron, Jay-Z, the Roc-A-Fella pyramids
was thrown in the air along with chants of Jay-Z's name. About 15 minutes later,
New York's finest began to take position on the streets as the crowd began to
swell into the thousands.
"The crowd was much larger than we expected
and that's good," Minister Ben told the crowd as he advised the excited
fans to not push each other. Big Tigga and Big Kap took to the stage and turned
the early portion of the rally into a mini-concert, spinning records by Ja-Rule,
Jay-Z and others. Once the music stopped, Tigga told the crowd "We accomplish
nothing today if we don't get heard." Most artists present delivered passionate
messages to the thousands of youth present about the importance of education.
"You've got a mayor who's a billionaire who wants to take the opportunity
away from you to become the same kind of person," Public Enemy Chuck D.
told the students. "My mother taught me early on that knowledge is the
foundation of all things," Wu-Tang's Raekwon said to thousands of cheers.
During the rally, a huge monitor that was brought
in on a flat bed truck played a televised message from Cynthia Nixon, star of
HBO's hit series "Sex And The City." "I was already in the process
of doing this when I heard about the budget cuts. When I saw just how serious
Cynthia was about this cause, I knew that we had to get together and really
rally the people and do something about this," Simmons told AllHipHop.com.
"I have made this the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network's number one priority."
Nixon delivered a powerful message, addressing the crowd and explaining how
her daughter, 5 year old Samantha Mozes, who attends public school in Manhattan's
Upper West Side, would be affected. Nixon was recently arrested when she joined
75 other parents and activists in a sit in, blocking traffic in front of City
Hall. Nixon called for the Mayor to raise taxes and reinstate the proposed cuts
into the educational system.
Most of the celebrities signed autographs for
screaming fans and left almost as fast as they came in. After Russell Simmons
and other invited guests delivered their message to the crowd, the rally came
to an end. According to officials, there were a mere three arrests, all for
disorderly conduct. One of the arrested was Wyclef Jean, who apparently was
upset that he could not get through to attend the rally as it was winding down.
Clef laid down in the street and police promptly arrested him.
"Overall, I think the rally was much more
successful than any of us really anticipated," AllHipHop.com's Grouchy
Greg said. "That goes to show you that people really do care about what's
going on with our youth and it shows the extreme power of hip-hop. To see that
amount of people gather peacefully for such a worthy cause was monumental."