By Sami Parman
A summit usually is a panel of highly recognized officials trying to change the world for the greater good. On Jan. 19, at St. Philip’s College the third annual Hip-Hop Summit was trying to affect society in a different way.
This one-day summit, sponsored by the Martin Luther King Commission, focused on engaging youth in community issues through workshops, a question-and-answer session with local hip-hop artists, educators and producers and a presentation of “Jena 6,” a documentary.
The summit featured a voter registration drive, requiring all those who attended to register to vote. Those under the age of 18 were required to be accompanied by an adult.
More than 700 people attended and registered to vote.
The BEAT AIDS Coalition Trust also participated, conducting free HIV education and testing.
This event was one of many presented by the MLK Commission, which is sponsored by the city of San Antonio.
They also organized the annual MLK march which is said to be one of the largest in the nation.
The Hip-Hop Summit was hosted last year by Trinity University.
John Martin, director of student life of St. Philip’s College, was excited to have the summit hosted by St. Philip’s College this year.
“It was a really good opportunity for us to support the Martin Luther King Jr. March and to help these community issues to the forefront.
“San Antonio has a 7 percent black population, but we have the largest march in the nation. San Antonio is a very unique city,” City Councilwoman Sheila McNeil said.
The documentary “Jena 6” was shown focusing on the events of Jena, La., and the arrests of six black high school students for an assault on a white student after several racially charged incidents in the months prior.
Brandon Allen, director and producer, answered questions and concerns he came across while filming “Jena 6.”
The film describes a white supremacy group that marched on MLK day to denounce the holiday.
Afterward a panel of local hip-hop artists, educators, producers and others answered questions from the audience.
Some of the issues sparked a great deal of discussion between the panel including how to change the image of drug use and sex that the hip-hip community tends to have.
“That image is created by the artist; they are the ones that have to spark a change,” said local San Antonio hip-hop artist Question.
“You have to spark a change in the community,” Question said. “But change really begins with the people in this room.”
Sharron Brown, aide for McNeil, is a firm supporter of the summit and the progress San Antonio is trying to make in this area.
“I want that kind of leadership Dr. King had ressurrected here in San Antonio, too,” Brown said.
“Black woman, Irish, Catholic, whatever you want to call me, King changed everything for me for the greater good.”