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Boots Riley

Social Activist and Front Man for Political Hip-Hop Group The Coup

For decades, Boots Riley, musician, vocalist, writer, and public speaker, has been an integral part of the progressive struggle for radical change through culture. At a young age Boots served on the central committee for the Progressive Labor Party. He was the President of InCAR (International Committee Against Racism), and organized to build California’s Anti-Racist…

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For decades, Boots Riley, musician, vocalist, writer, and public speaker, has been an integral part of the progressive struggle for radical change through culture. At a young age Boots served on the central committee for the Progressive Labor Party. He was the President of InCAR (International Committee Against Racism), and organized to build California’s Anti-Racist Farm Workers’ Union.

In 1991 Boots Riley founded the political hip hop group The Coup and with other Hip-Hop artists created the Mau Mau Rhythm Collective which put on “Hip-Hop Edutainment Concerts”. The Mau Mau Rhythm Collective was actively involved in the campaign to stop the FBI’s “Weed And Seed” program from coming to Oakland. In 1994, Boots co-founded The Young Comrades a politically oriented community group that staged free concert / rallies dedicated to working on material reform issues in Oakland.

In 2000, through his workshop on Art and Organizing, Boots Riley led a group of young artists to create “Guerilla Hip-Hop Concerts” on a flatbed truck, which traveled throughout Oakland to protest California’s Proposition 21. The workshop also distributed tens of thousands free cassettes of “The Rumble”, which he called “newspapers on tape”.

Boots Riley taught a daily high school class, “Culture and Resistance: Persuasive Lyric Writing”, at the School of Social Justice and Community Development in East Oakland. In 2001, Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello invited Riley to be part of the “Tell Us the Truth Tour,” meant to shed light on alleged monopolization of the media and the coming FTAA agreements, featuring acoustic performances by Riley and others and hosted by Janeane Garofalo and Naomi Klein.

In 2009 Boots Riley and Tom Morello released the self-titled album for their band, the Street Sweeper Social Club. They toured along with Nine Inch Nails and the recently reunited Jane’s Addiction. Two songs, “100 Little Curses” and “Promenade”, from their self-titled debut received rotation on Rock radio in major markets.

Boots has appeared on Fox News’s Hannity and Colmes, PBS’s Democracy Now!, and ABC’s Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher. He has been featured addressing a variety of subjects from music to grassroots organizing, to US imperialism and racism, recently winning awards from the AFL-CIO for his participation with the Tell Us the Truth Tour.

Riley continues to effect social change through his artistic and political work.

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Dope Era Magazine Exclusive Interview With Boots Riley

Boots Riley: We are the Bomb

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