Join Us in Honoring Russell Simmons on Nov. 9 at USC

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November 5, 2013

On Saturday, Nov. 9 at 6pm, MPAC and Southern California Muslims will honor philanthropist and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons as a “Voice of Courage and Conscience” for using his celebrity to promote acceptance and understanding in the face of bigotry toward Islam and Muslims and for his consistent efforts to promote the voices and talents of Muslim artists on mainstream outlets.

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On Tuesday, Nov. 5, the Los Angeles Times published an interview with Simmons about his efforts to fight racism and Islamophobia and promote diverse artists.

SEE: “Quick Chat: Russell Simmons Spreads his Influence” (Los Angeles Times)

“I'm here to support artists and their freedom of expression,” Simmons said about supporting talented Muslim artists regardless of fear and ignorance about Islam. “Islamophobia is one of the heavier burdens we have in this country. Celebrity is very valuable, and while I still have a voice, I want to use it.”

VENUE

The event is co-sponsored by the University of Southern California’s (USC) Office of Religious Life and will be held at the USC Ronald Tutor Campus Center Ballroom at 3607 Trousdale Parkway Los Angeles, CA 90089.

SPECIAL PERFORMANCES

We're excited to add special performances by musician Yuna, political comedian Dean Obeidallah and spoken word artist Amir Sulaiman, whose careers were advanced because of opportunities they were provided by Simmons.

About Russell Simmons

As the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, Simmons is best known for launching the careers of artists such as the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and Run-D.M.C. He also founded a number of social cause organizations, including the Hip Hop Summit Action Network, the Rush Philanthropic Arts Organization and the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU).

“Russell Simmons is a powerful figure on the interfaith scene, who continues to inspire many to action and empowers youth to come together in love and acceptance,” said MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati. “He has been a visionary on the music, fashion and popular scene who has admirably put his celebrity to work by promoting peace, understanding and acceptance of Islam and Muslims during turbulent times.”

In Spring 2011, when Rep. Peter King (R-NY) held Congressional hearings on the “radicalization of American Muslims,” Simmons spearheaded a demonstration in New York City’s Times Square that gathered religious leaders and celebrities under the slogan, “I Am a Muslim Too. ” Months later, when the home improvement store chain Lowe's caved in to pressure from conservative evangelical groups and pulled its advertising from TLC's reality show "All-American Muslim," Simmons purchased the network for any revenue lost and publicly opposed the boycott against the show.

As the chairman of FFEU for more than a decade, Simmons has put his fame to the cause of building understanding between historically-opposed groups, including the Black and Jewish communities and the Jewish and Muslim communities. One of the foundation’s initiatives, Weekend of Twinning, brings congregations at synagogues, mosques and young leadership groups together every year for joint programs. Last month, FFEU honored Mohannad Malas, Co-Founder of the Orange County Islamic Foundation, with the Muslim-Jewish Relations Award for his outstanding work in helping the cause of ethnic understanding and bridging gaps between communities.

 

Special performance by singer, songwriter Yuna

In a remarkably short period of time, Yuna has risen from Malaysian sensation to full-on international stardom. In the process, the charismatic young singer-songwriter has become the first artist from her homeland to breakthrough the American market.

The ease with which Yuna has transitioned to the mainstream can be attributed to her effortlessly universal appeal. The artist’s personally-charged songs are deeply felt and have won her comparisons with the likes of Feist, Adele and Norah Jones.

Yesterday, Yuna celebrated the release of her second U.S. recorded album, Nocturnal. Recorded in Los Angeles, Nocturnal marks a major step forward for Yuna, expanding upon the achievements of her self-titled 2012 debut album and its Pharrell Williams-produced hit “Live Your Life.”

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The event is co-sponsored by the USC’s Office of Religious Life. For more information contact Deana Nassar, MPAC’s Hollywood Liaison, at 323- 258-6722 or deana@mpac.org.

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