Hip Hop Artists Are In the (White) House

President Obama brings in a poetry slam

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

On the campaign trail, President Barack Obama said that no one should graduate from university without having read poetry. He also promised that he would open up the White House to a wide range of people. Last night he made progress on both promises when the White House hosted a poetry slam (or more accurately, a poetry jam because it wasn’t a competition, but instead an open mic night that included slam poets, musicians and spoken-word artists. James Earl Jones read a piece and among the performers were two young spoken word poets from Youth Speaks, a non-profit organization in San Francisco for teens. One of the young poets, Joshua Brandon Bennett, joins The Takeaway to perform some of his poetry and talk about the experience. Also joining the conversation is Jeff Chang, journalist and author of Can't Stop, Won't Stop, the award-winning history of hip-hop.

To get a taste of what went on at the poetry jam, watch this clip of Joshua Bennett freestyling.


Joshua Brandon Bennett and Jeff Chang

Hosted by:

Farai Chideya


Stephanie Loleng and Sitara Nieves

Comments [1]

Vera Jiji

Joshua Bennett seemed unaware that, under FDR in the 1930's, the WPA employed artists, musicians, playwrights and actors. One example? The Federal Theatre's Living Newspaper series hugely influenced public opinion, so much so that "One-third of a Nation" changed public policy on housing.

Perhaps Obama can be moved to include arts and artists among the people providing stimulus to the economy.

May. 13 2009 12:42 PM

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