By Kayla Henderson-Wood | OBSERVER Staff Writer

Hip-hop legends DJ Yella, Lonzo and DJ Cli-n-Tel, from the groups N.W.A. and World Class Wreckin Cru, are uniting the community of Sacramento on Saturday, July 16, at the Guild Theater to discuss the history of hip-hop and its complex relationship with gun violence, police brutality and social justice.

Hosted by Organized Voices, the event includes music, comedy, a book signing and a panel discussion.

Organized Voices is working with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, ACLU NorCal, NorCal Resist and the Neighbor Program to bring the event to Sacramento. Organizers say it will be a true celebration of hip-hop culture and a unique history lesson on the genre’s function as a vehicle to record history.

The experiences of DJ Yella, Lonzo and DJ Cli-N-Tel, while differing in several aspects, reflect many of the same issues Sacramento is working through today. 

In 1990, the song “We’re All in the Same Gang,” was released, as well as a campaign called “Stop the Violence,” to bring awareness to gun violence. Now, the panel will offer space to continue the conversation.

Elizabeth Kim founded Organized Voices in 2016 as a means to draw attention to incidents of police brutality. The organization since has expanded its focus to include gun violence, gang violence and more.

When Kim was a teenager, she received a cannabis charge that resulted in a felony. This experience exposed her to what she describes as an unjust legal system. She dedicated her next 15 years to becoming a lawyer and community advocate to support people in situations similar to hers.

Now, Kim has several big goals for the future of social justice. She wants to teach younger kids how to read laws and how to understand their rights. This education, she said, has the potential to dramatically shift the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they work in.

“If we learn about math and science, and P.E. and sex ed, as early as elementary school, we should be knowing about our rights, especially if we are governed by so many laws,” said Kim, who envisions such educational material someday being as prevalent as insurance ads on television.