Rapper, activist Chuck D to speak at GCCC





Garden City Community College once again this year will have a famous, motivational speaker for its Martin Luther King Jr. Day events.

Chuck D, leader and co-founder of rap group Public Enemy, will be the keynote speaker at this year's event, scheduled for 10 a.m. Jan 21 in the main gym of the Dennis Perryman Athletic Complex at GCCC.

The campus and community program is free and open to the public, under sponsorship of GCCC and the Cultural Relations Board of the city of Garden City. Co-sponsors include the GCCC Student Government Association and the Brookover Lecture Series, through the GCCC Endowment Association.

Colin Lamb, GCCC counseling services director and SGA co-sponsor, said he believes Chuck D will connect with the young people at the college.

"Our Martin Luther King Day program always features a speaker linked to the American Civil Rights Movement or a motivational figure with a message for young people," Lamb said.

"We think Chuck D will have some significant things to say in his message to the students and for the community. I think he's a good person to talk to young people. He'll be able to get on their level and talk about some things students may be going through," he said.

Lamb said people other than students can relate to Chuck D, as well.

"I think he's going to stress on the history of discrimination and how to overcome adversity no matter what background you're from — race, religion, or any background. That message will relate to all people who fight that fight," he said.

After his rap career, Chuck D has been a political activist and authored two critically-acclaimed books.

He has been credited with redefining rap music and hip hop culture with the release of Public Enemy's debut album in 1987, "Yo Bum Rush The Show," which critics noted for articulating realities faced by black Americans in the late 20th Century.

Since that time, Public Enemy has continued to stress the importance of history and self-determination in overcoming adversity, according to a release from the college.

Led by the Chuck D from 1987 to 2009, Public Enemy has released 13 albums, toured 63 countries and influenced hip hop communities, social justice struggles and political activism around the world. Rolling Stone magazine listed Chuck D and Public Enemy in 2004 as one of the "fifty most important performers in rock and roll history." In 2007, the rapper was named among the 100 Most Influential Black Americans by Ebony Magazine.

He wrote the foreword for the 2011 book, "The Legends of Hip-Hop," by Justin Bua, which honors artists, athletes and political figures through original works of art. His own books include "Fight the Power: Rap, Race and Reality," and "Lyrics of a Rap Revolutionary."

Previous presenters have ranged from associates of King, to figures from the Brown vs. Board of Education case that led to U.S. school desegregation, to Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.

Born Douglas Ridenhour on Aug. 1 1960, Chuck D has been featured or interviewed in more than 50 documentaries on music, technology, politics and race; and appeared in numerous public service announcements for national peace and the Partnership for a Drug Free America. He also has been a national spokesman for Rock the Vote, the National Urban League, Americans for the Arts Council and the National Alliance for African-American Athletes.

He hosted ESPN's "Ali Raps" in 2006, addressing the poetry and politics of Muhammad Ali. For the past five years, he has hosted "On the Real Off the Record" for Air America, with interviews of leading American figures in politics and music, as well as continuing a career in music and writing on topics ranging from technology, race and politics to rap and soul music.

Among his latest projects are "Tear Down That Wall," a single about U.S.-Mexico border divisions; and involvement with a Time-Life three-CD album, "Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement." He also is scheduled to appear in a follow-up motion picture about the movement.

In addition to the keynote address, the program will include presentations of African-American prose and poetry by GCCC students, and music from the choir of Mount Zion Church of God in Christ, Garden City.

Earlier in December, Public Enemy was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. They are only the fourth hip-hop act to be inducted. Others include Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys, according to Rolling Stone.

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