The Shadow Conventions taking place at the same time as the political conventions in Philadelphia and now Los Angeles have brought together a wide array of leading politicians, policy makers, activists, even comedians. Our conventions, which we call "A Citizens Intervention in American Politics," are specifically geared toward the concerns and experience of young people.

Each evening's activities began with a "Culture Jam," in which artists, activists, writers, and scholars discuss and perform pieces on our core issues: poverty, campaign-finance reform, and the failed war on drugs. In Philadelphia, we were happy to have with us rapper Chuck D, Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, the DJ Spooky, as well as intellectuals like the sociologist Jonathan Kozol.

The Jams are meant to generate conversations to help us better understand how to educate and motivate America's youth to become more politically conscious and engaged--and to see how, through them, we can transform our society.

Los Angeles has brought an even more eclectic group together, with the keynote culture jam featuring KRS-One, former Sex Pistol John Lydon, Vernon Reid, and David Crosby talking with KPFA Radio's Davey D and Mark LeVine about their defining moments in the civil rights and anti-war movements, the beginnings of punk, and the Public Enemy era in hip-hop. The questions they asked, after all, remain the same: How can music, and the culture industries more generally, be a force for change?

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