by Tamiko Hope
With the political climate in America looking super bleak and still in need of a bag of rice, rapper-actor T.I. has been an active agent for change. The Atlanta native is using his voice, as well as social media platform, to shed light on many social and political issues. From encouraging voters to show up at the polls during Alabama’s election, which resulted in a win for the state’s first Democratic senator in 25 years, to marching against police brutality to leading boycotts of businesses that are accused of discrimination. The T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle star has been doing it all under his mantra #USorELSE.
Meanwhile, back at home in “The A” Keisha Lance Bottoms was sworn into office as the 60th mayor of the city of Atlanta on January 2nd, 2018. Bottoms is the second African-American woman to have that distinction. The online movement that led to her historical and hard-earned win over City Councilwoman Mary Norwood offered an exciting blueprint for how celebrities can utilize their social media power to help influence voter turnout for highly important local elections.
A number of VH1 stars including, Yung Joc, Lil Scrappy, Rasheeda, and Kirk Frost helped to boost voter awareness, as well as increase engagement on a number of local issues. The work that these hometown celebs did on behalf of her campaign was not lost on Mayor Bottoms.
“I’m just glad that people paid attention and I think that when the final analysis is done on this election you will see that people showed up, particularly young people who don’t normally engage,” stated Mayor Bottoms at a round table discussion held on Inauguration Day. “When you have an election that is decided by less than 900 votes like our election was, it really speaks to the power of the voices in our community that often go unheard.”
To ensure this synergy continues, Mayor Bottoms recently announced that she added T.I. and Killer Mike to her transition team. This clip of Killer Mike endorsing then-candidate Bottoms in the most passionate way went viral and helped draw even more national attention to the election.
While this unprecedented move may come off as a surprise to some, Joycelyn Wilson, Assistant Professor of Black Media and Southern Hip Hop Studies at Georgia Tech, isn’t shock by the decision to offer the hip hop stars seats at the political table. “Ten years ago when I worked as a Research Associate with former Mayor Andrew Young, he began mentoring both [Clifford] Harris and [Michael] Render into the leaders they’ve become, especially Harris. Render has been actively engaged in politics since he was a teen. Nevertheless, the endorsement was a direct set-up for a passing of the torch so to speak.”
We’re looking forward to seeing the empowering possibilities Tip, Mike and Atlanta’s new leader named Keisha can bring in their effort to continue to uplift the city.
T.I. offers his review of three shows based in his hometown: Atlanta, Love & Hip Hop Atlanta and The Real Housewives Of Atlanta.