Lennox Yearwood

Picture of Giraffe Lennox Yearwood

Lennox Yearwood, an ex-Air Force chaplain, music impresario, and political activist known as the “Hip Hop Rev,” has been a force for change in all his roles, even when that’s meant being fired or jailed.

After Hurricane Katrina, he led a march in New Orleans to protest the treatment of Blacks in that crisis. The march led to the conviction of several police officers for violating Black citizens’ human rights. Following up, his Gulf Coast Renewal Campaign stopped the evictions of survivors from emergency housing.

When Chaplain Yearwood organized a concert tour to protest the US presence in Iraq, the Air Force “honorably discharged” him. He went on to organize “Shut it Down,” a concert calling for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison. His “Make Hip Hop Not War” national bus tour took hip hop artists, vets, Congress members, and peace activists across the country, campaigning to stop US actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In an anti-war protest at the US Congress, he was arrested for “assaulting a police officer” though it was Yearwood who had to be treated for injuries.

Yearwood's nonprofit Hip Hop Caucus gets people, especially young ones, involved in activism and service—a lot of people. The Caucus has 700,000 members with teams in 48 US cities across 30 states. He worked with hip hop artists to do a “Vote or Die” national campaign, and created a 50-state strategy for P. Diddy’s Citizen Change, a program to involve the hip hop generation in community-building. He founded Hip Hop Voices, for the AFL-CIO’s Voices for Working Families.

Yearwood’s current focus at Hip Hop is the climate emergency, including “One World One Voice” to involve young people, “Green and City” to unite Black mayors in doing environmental projects, and “Green the Block,” to educate more people about the crisis and involve them in solutions.

Is his whirlwind of actions realistic? Yearwood says “What is unrealistic is thinking we can put off for decades action that is desperately needed now to ensure our survival as a species.”