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Civil Rights Group Plans To Start A Hip-Hop Record Label

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference plans to start Justice HipHop Music. Charles Steele, the SCLC president, says hip-hop is the most inclusive genre. "So, with a beat, we're getting attention, and it goes across all aspects of ethnicities."
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference plans to start Justice HipHop Music. Charles Steele, the SCLC president, says hip-hop is the most inclusive genre. "So, with a beat, we're getting attention, and it goes across all aspects of ethnicities."
Credit ROGELIO V. SOLIS / ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference plans to start a hip-hop record label that produces music with social justice themes.

The Atlanta-based nonprofit was at the forefront of the civil rights movement. Now, 50 years later, it’s struggling to stay relevant. But with this new label, Justice HipHop Music, it hopes to get the attention of a younger audience.

“Our goal is to use the power of music for messaging to address social and civil issues such as the wealth gap, police brutality,” says Sarah Reynolds, co-director of the SCLC’s Youth Outreach Music and Entertainment division.

So, why hip-hop?

Reynolds says, statistically, hip-hop is the most popular genre among millennials, the demographic the SCLC wants to attract.

“People see us as the ’60s and the ’50s, in terms of what we’re known for. Now, they can have a perception that we are relevant,” says Charles Steele, the organization’s president.

Steele says hip-hop is also the most inclusive genre.

“So, with a beat, we’re getting attention, and it goes across all aspects of ethnicities. It’s not narrow to any particular group or race,” Steele says.

“So, our effort is to get the younger members, as well as attract additional younger members, to be more active in the organization,” says Michelle Simpson, the other co-director of the SCLC’s Youth Division.

Simpson says, right now, the SCLC is trying to raise $20,000 through a GoFundMepage and investments with businesses to fund the label in its planning stages. She says the nonprofit is looking for investments from medium and large-sized businesses that have shown a commitment to social justice causes and an interest in the arts.

Simpson says the SCLC hopes to officially launch the label with an artist or two by next summer.