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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
September 19, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General


Tracy Munford
973-504-6341 or 609-571-5101


NJ High School and College Students Compete To Encourage Young People to Vote in the Gubernatorial Election
Haddon Heights High School Student To Appear on Same Stage as Hip-Hop Artists as Part of New Jersey’s “BE POWERFUL, BE HEARD HIP-HOP SUMMIT II”

Jason Simon-Bierenbaum, a student at Haddon Heights High School, will be joined by 14 spoken word artists at the New Jersey “BE POWERFUL, BE HEARD – VOTE NEW JERSEY” Hip-Hop Summit II. The Summit will be held at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton on Friday, September 30, 2005 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Summit will feature hip-hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons, hip-hop artists, celebrities and other advocates of voter education and registration. The Summit is a panel discussion, with music, about the importance of voting and issues of concern to young voters. According to the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN), Hip-Hop Summits are held across this country but New Jersey’s Summit remains the only one nationally that is web cast live to school districts across the state. The Summits are designed to foster initiatives aimed at engaging the Hip-Hop generation in community development issues with special emphasis on voter education and includes questions from the audience.

The 15 Spoken Word artists will perform at the beginning of the Hip-Hop Summit and were selected from a field of youth between the ages of 16 and 21 who participated in competitions in Newark, Camden, and Trenton in May. Each participant created and presented a three-minute poem about the importance of voting. Five winners were selected from each competition. The overall winner on September 30 will appear on Black Entertainment Television’s “Rap City,” and will have the opportunity to audition for Russell Simmons’ HBO series, “Def Poetry Jam.” In addition, the winner will participate in a Public Service Announcement about the importance of voting, which will air across New Jersey for the month of October preceding the New Jersey gubernatorial election.

New Jersey is the first state to utilize the popularity of hip-hop to motivate, encourage and educate young people about the importance of voting. The 2005 “BE POWERFUL, BE HEARD – VOTE NEW JERSEY” initiative began at Perth Amboy High School in April.

New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey said, “Today’s young people, like those participating in the Spoken Word Competition, provide a youth perspective on issues that affect them. Their contribution is very important in shaping the message and incorporating youth into voting.”


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