Originally created by UW professor David Muhammad 10 years ago, the Hip Hop as a Movement Week event has seen some ups and downs over the years. But in 2007, it was brought under the direction of the Multicultural Student Coalition (MCSC), which has given it a steady and stable nest where it has grown and thrived.

"We want to challenge people's traditional notions of hip hop beyond what is on the radio," explains Isidora Finkelstein, an administrative member of MCSC who sits on the event's steering committee. "We want to show hip hop as an art [and] to encourage dialogue about what hip hop means to us."

To achieve that goal this year, MCSC has planned a conference to discuss Madison's African American youth incarceration rate – the highest in the country – along with identity education, a beatbox workshop and a mini-film festival.

Katrina Flores, who has been involved in Hip Hop as a Movement Week organizing in past years, says the events act as a springboard for discussions and action year-round. "It's a week of events meant to be a jumping off point for more action in directly addressing injustice and cultivating grassroots solutions," she says. "It makes you very happy to look out at the crowds of people, have one-on-one conversations, overhear amazing dialogues happening all around you, and see the next generation of youth participating in the culture and making it their own."

Finkelstein says she's involved in the week's events due to her strong belief not only of hip hop as a tool, but also as an agent of change. "Hip hop is hugely important as a catalyst and unifying force for the hip hop generation," she says. "First of all, it reaches a huge audience. In many ways, hip hop is a language in itself – it allows people to connect despite things that might otherwise divide them."

And in the end, she believes hip hop can be the unifying tool we all seek. "I've grown up immersed in hip hop culture. [MCs] have made it clear how hip hop can be a powerful means through which to tell a story and to have your voice heard," she explains. "I've seen hip hop cross the boundaries of cities, countries, race, class, gender to really bring people together."



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