Movement-Building in the Age of Obama - An Evening of Stories, Strategies and Straight Talk

January 25, 2009

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(WBEZ/file)

Listen in as former graffiti-writer, turned writer/publisher, turned activist/organizer, turned institution builder, Chicago-born William "Upski" Wimsatt gives his own State of Society Report, which he's titled: "Movement-Building in the Age of Obama - An Evening of Stories, Strategies and Straight Talk."

Wimsatt has spent the last 20 years building a youth movement in the United States, and is seen by many today as a grandfather to youth political organizing... at the ripe old age of 36.  Wimsatt is one of his generation's gratest political organizers and most original literary figures.

Currently writing his sixth book - which he says is a personal history of America's cultural and political movements from 1984-2009 that "aims to solve the mystery of what happened to his generation?, what happened to the hip-hop kids of the 1980's and 90's?, the bandana-wearing kids who shut down the WTO in Seattle?, and the flag-waving kids who cut school to march for immigration?"- this special night will be a sneak peak to what Wimsatt has discovered and some insight into the trends shaping our world today.

Featuring music by DJ Itch13 and performances by Kevin Coval, Idris Goodwin, Deja Taylor and FM Supreme, recorded as part of Chicago Public Radio's “Winter Block Party,” celebrating Chicago's hip-hop arts.

William "Upski" Wimsatt
A lover of cities and civic life, Wimsatt became one of Chicago's most infamous graffiti writers as a young teenager. After deciding that writing his name on things wasn't the best way to honor his community, he began publishing a broad sheet newspaper which was posted on Chicago's bus and train lines. At age 16, he became a columnist for the Source magazine. A reporter and essayist, he has written for dozens of publications including: Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, Vibe, XXL, and Utne Reader.

Wimsatt's first book, Bomb the Suburbs: Graffiti, Freight-hopping, Race, and the Search for Hip-hop's Moral Center (1994) has sold more than 25,000 copies.  Today Wimsatt is the founder of the League of Pissed Off Voters/League of Young Voters, organizing for the 2008 election.  Along with editing the 2003 Future 500: Youth Activism in the United States book, in 2004 Wismatt co-edited How To Get Stupid White Men Out Of Office, a collection of essays from youth election organizers around the world.
 
Recorded Sunday, January 25, 2009 at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater.