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Hip-Hop Parade in Bed-Stuy Honors Marcus Garvey

 The Universal Hip-Hop Parade for Social Justice is now in its 14th year.
The Universal Hip-Hop Parade for Social Justice is now in its 14th year.
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BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A "hip-hop parade" marching in Bed-Stuy on Saturday will honor the legacy of early 19th century black activist and political leader Marcus Garvey.

The Universal Hip-Hop Parade for Social Justice, now in its 14th year, is inspired by Garvey's 1920s Harlem parades, designed to promote unity and black pride, according to parade organizer Kazembe Batts.

Now Batts said he and his associates use hip-hop to achieve the same goal. 

"We're trying to encourage the whole community to stand up, fight for what they believe in, come out of their house and represent in the streets and the parks of their community," Batts said. "Hip-hop culture has been used to bring to bring people of different ethnicities, even class statuses together."

Organizers will close off Marcus Garvey Boulevard and other streets in Bed-Stuy on Saturday, Garvey's birthday, and the festival will include DJs, MCs, graffiti artists, breakdancers, and more.

This year's grand marshals are Ralph McDaniels, host of the hip-hop video show "Video Music Box," and Zulu Nation, a hip-hop social justice group started by Afrika Bambaataa.

The parade, which started in 1999, was born through what Batts said was his own activism. Batts said he was looking for a way to reach more people— especially younger people.

"In getting older, I wanted to try to get more young adults into what I call the movement, or the struggle," Batts said. "[Garvey] was able to build such a global movement, which impressed me."

This year's festivities will also feature a forum on Friday to discuss Garvey's legacy from a spiritual, political, economic and cultural persepctive. 

While the parade has not attracted the same level of attention as some larger marches over the years, 48-year-old Batts said he wants to continue trying to teach younger people in the neighborhood about Garvey and his work, and hopefully someone from a new generation can take over his work.

"NYC is the home of hip-hop, and Marcus Garvey when he was at the peak of his power and authority was in New York," Batts said. "It's a perfect match that should be able to blossom in this city."

Saturday's parade is from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., and runs on Lafayette Avenue from Tompkins Avenue to Marcus Garvey Boulevard; turning right onto Marcus Garvey to Fulton Street; turning right down Fulton to Bedford Avenue.

Friday's forum is from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the George Henry Murray Preparatory Academy, 760 DeKalb Ave. Suggested donation of $5.00.