The League of Young Voters may have officially changed its name from the League of Pissed Off Voters, but its organizers are still ticked, and they're coming back to town on Fri., Oct. 7.
Rob "Biko" Baker, of Milwaukee, was the young voter organizer for the Brown and Black Presidential Forum in January on MSNBC as well as lead organizer for the Slam Bush, a national rap/poetry contest. For last year's fall election in Milwaukee, Baker says he and his fellow progressives were able to prompt a much greater number of the youth vote to turn out in some African-American and Latino precincts. Now he's bringing that experience to Pittsburgh in what he labels a "hip-hop PowerPoint presentation" on "how to use hip-hop culture to motivate youth to go to the polls."
"A lot of time," he adds, "people are talking about what the youth are doing: Youth don't vote, youth don't care. I think youth are skeptical. But if you give them an opportunity to make change, they'll do it. But they are also not going to be involved in B.S."
Joining Baker will be Malia Lazu, who runs Cities for Progress, a collective of 400 groups and elected officials across the country who are targeting 20 cities for progressive change around three issues: universal health care, opposing Wal-Marts and bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq. She'll be talking about violence in cities -- particularly how the programs that spring up piecemeal to fight violence can join together to become a more permanent presence in the community.
Baker says he was impressed with the city when he was here this year for the League of Pissed Off Voters' national conference, especially with the groups that had joined to support Democratic mayoral hopeful City Councilor Bill Peduto. Marvels Baker: "I hadn't seen a multicultural coalition working together in my city."