President and CEO, Hip Hop Caucus + Award Winning National Leader on Climate, Justice, and Democracy
Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. is the President & CEO of Hip Hop Caucus, a minister, community activist, U.S. Air Force veteran, and one of the most influential people in Hip Hop political life.
Rev Yearwood entered the world of Hip Hop Politics as the Political and Grassroots Director for the Hip Hop Summit Action Network in 2003 and 2004, and as a key architect of P. Diddy’s “Vote Or Die!” campaign in a run up to the 2004 Presidential Election.
To carry the energy of the efforts beyond election day, he founded Hip Hop Caucus in September of 2004. The goal of Hip Hop Caucus is to build a powerful and sustainable organization for the culture’s role in the civic process and empowerment of communities impacted first and worst by injustice.
As a non-profit, non-partisan, multi-issue organization, Hip Hop Caucus focuses on addressing core issues impacting underserved and vulnerable communities, with programs and campaigns that support solution-driven community organizing led by today’s young leaders. Through a collaborative network, Hip Hop Caucus holds elected officials accountable, shapes policy, and builds more diverse and powerful movements to ignite positive change.
After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Rev Yearwood established the award winning Gulf Coast Renewal Campaign where he led a coalition of national and grassroots organizations to advocate for the rights of Katrina survivors. The coalition successfully stopped early rounds of illegal evictions of Katrina survivors from temporary housing, held police and government entities accountable for injustices committed during the emergency response efforts, supported the United Nations “right to return” policies for internally displaced persons, promoted comprehensive federal recovery legislation, and campaigned against increased violence resulting from lack of schools and jobs in the years after Katrina.
In 2008, Rev Yearwood led Hip Hop Caucus’ launch of Respect My Vote!, a campaign and coalition that works with Hip Hop artists to engage young people in the electoral process. Since its inception, numerous celebrity partners have joined the campaign during election cycles to reach their fan bases, including T.I., 2 Chainz, Amber Rose, Future, Keyshia Cole, Vic Mensa, Charlamagne tha God, Keke Palmer, Omar Epps, and more. The campaign has registered and mobilized tens of thousands of young voters to the polls and in 2008 set a world record of registering the most voters in one day (32,000 people across 16 U.S. cities). Respect My Vote! is the longest running hip hop oriented voter engagement program, having been active in United States elections for over 10 years.
As a national leader and pacemaker within the Green Movement, Rev Yearwood has been successfully bridging the gap between communities of color and environmental issue advocacy. With a diverse set of celebrity allies, he has raised awareness and action in communities that are often overlooked by traditional environmental campaigns and elected officials. His innovative stance has garnered the Hip Hop Caucus support from several environmental leaders including the Sunrise Movement, League of Conservation Voters, Earthjustice, and Zero Hour.
He is a leader in campaigns calling for divestment from fossil fuels causing climate change, increasing diversity in the climate movement, ensuring everyone has clean water and air, and international efforts to address climate change. He has also fought on the frontlines for vulnerable communities, including at the international climate negotiations in Paris and efforts to fight new oil pipeline developments in Maryland and at Standing Rock. He has received numerous awards for his work, including being dubbed as a New Green Hero by Rolling Stone and recognized by the Obama White House as a Champion of Change.
In 2018, he helped launch “Think 100% – The Coolest Show on Climate Change”, a multimedia communications and engagement platform to challenge environmental injustices and share just solutions to climate change, including a transition to 100% clean energy for all. The platform is centered around the Think 100% podcast co-hosted by Rev Yearwood and Grammy-Nominated Singer & Actress, Antonique Smith. Guests include leaders from communities on the front-lines of climate change, elected officials who are boldly leading, and cultural creators and artists who are reaching hearts and minds.
Grammy Nominated Singer + Actress + Activist + People’s Climate Music Ambassador
Antonique Smith is an acclaimed actor and a 2015 Grammy nominated singer and writer. She is most famous for her starring role of Faith Evans in “Notorious” where she received rave reviews and was praised by critics, including Jeffrey Lyons who called her “one to watch”.
Antonique first garnered attention in her buzz-worthy leading role in “RENT” on Broadway as Mimi Marquez. She became the international poster girl for the show. Antonique played CIA agent Sandra Burns in “Abduction” opposite Taylor Lautner and Alfred Molina, and in “Yelling To The Sky”, playing the starring role of Ola O’Hara, opposite Zoe Kravitz, Gabourey Sidibe and Jason Clarke. In 2018, Antonique will be starring in the second season of the NETFLIX series, Luke Cage. Legendary director Sidney Lumet heralded Antonique as “an amazing actress with a great career ahead of her”.
Antonique shocked the world in 2015 with the release of her EP “Love Is Everything”, stemming from her successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012 where Smith raised over $50,000 in 30 days from her fans. ‘Hold Up Wait A Minute (Woo Woo)’ is the Grammy nominated, edgy, uptempo, future meets retro, soul pleaser.
Antonique is also an accomplished songwriter. Having co-written her Grammy nominated single, she has also written songs for several television shows including Shots Fired, where she co-wrote the show’s theme song along with several other original songs featured in the show and composed a piece of the score with great Terrance Blanchard.
Having completed a 20-city “Act On Climate” tour with the Hip Hop Caucus and also singing for the Pope’s climate rally for over 100,000 people on the National Mall in D.C., Antonique is a serious advocate for climate justice and human rights. In 2014, Antonique’s cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me” was selected as the anthem of the People’s Climate March. As a People’s Climate Music Ambassador, Antonique traveled to Paris in 2015 for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21. In 2017, she released her version of “Here Comes the Sun,” featuring Jeremih during New York Climate Week and was recently honored by Grist as one of the 50 fixers in the climate space. A New Jersey native and a Superstorm Sandy Survivor, Antonique has dedicated her time to working to bring attention and support to vulnerable communities. From working in Flint, MI to helping the communities affected by Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria to drawing attention to the oil drilling taking place in Los Angeles and being and advocate for solar energy, Antonique is a leading “Artivist” and her efforts are a real-world example of how culture can affect change.
Following the likes of Barbra Streisand and Diana Ross, Smith is pursuing excellence in acting as well as a successful recording career. Antonique’s activism simply adds another layer to her versatility.