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the time, Chavis Muhammad announced that two of his goals were
to modernize the organization and infuse it with energy, excitement, and a younger membership. He took great pride in the fact that he appreciated the need to reach out to young street gangs and generation “next.” “I’m not a stranger in the ’hood,” he proclaimed at his first press conference as CEO. “I know we need to reach out and em-brace our young people.”
Soon after what he believed was his crowning achievement Chavis Muhammad found himself in the center of a public debacle when the NAACP Board of Directors alleged that, without its knowledge or approval, he used $332,400 from the organization’s funds to settle a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit a former employee
of the organization had filed against him. On August 20, 1994, just sixteen months after being named to the organization’s top post, the Board voted to dismiss him. Three years later Chavis Muhammad
joined the Nation of Islam, changed his name, and hitched his political future to Louis Farrakhan.
. . .
Even as hip hop struggles to define what it is politically, it has always professed to know what it is not—the civil rights movement. Like most youth-based cultures, generation hip hop believed that previ-ous generations simply did not understand the world it inherited or why the movement was so important to them. Thus, it was striking that a member of the old black political guard was selected to lead what was widely considered a much younger and future-oriented
political enterprise. But the choice of Chavis Muhammad made per-fectly good sense to Simmons. “He is not judgmental,” Simmons ex-plains. “He sees the goodness of kids and makes the kids see the beauty in their ideas. To have Ben on my team is the most credible stamp of approval.”
By choosing Chavis Muhammad to run the HSAN, Simmons gave
a strong indication about the direction of the organization’s political
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