State Dept. Webcast Features Guest Who Called Clarence Thomas, Condi Rice 'Uncle Toms'
7:49 AM, Jan 31, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
The State Department is presenting a global webcast on February 4, titled "From the Street to Mainstream: The Evolution of Rap/Hip Hop Music." The host of the webcast, rapper and State Department Music Ambassador Toni Blackman, will be joined by Pras Michel, a founding member of the hip hop group the Fugees, to discuss "how rap and hip hop have increased social awareness of the African-American experience — and raised even broader issues in contemporary society." Some of Michel's more inflammatory comments in the past raise questions about the appropriateness of his appearance with the U.S.'s music ambassador on a government-sponsored webcast representing America to the world.
In 2008, Michel was interviewed by Katie Halper about Michel's documentary Skid Row, which chronicles the rapper/filmmaker's experiences "undercover for 9 days and nights as a homeless person in downtown LA's notorious Skid Row." Michel lamented in the interview that the "African-American generation is lost. They're not being represented correctly." He found fault with Bill Cosby and Oprah for just "point[ing] fingers." He called Michael Jordan a "sell-out." But he saved his harshest words for some well-known black conservatives as he contrasted them with then-presidential candidate Barack Obama:
Michel added, "By the way, I don't formally support Obama. I just want people to know I really like him." However, according to the Washington Free Beacon, Michel did go on become an Obama supporter, was a White House guest, and even became a founding member of Organizing for Action with a $20,000 donation.
Besides Barack Obama, Michel noted in the interview some other African-Americans he admires:
The Washington Free Beacon also noted some of Michel's remarks about his experiences in Somali in 2009 when he was filming a yet-unfinished documentary about Somali pirates and his ship was hijacked by those very pirates. Michel seemed to blame the U.S. Navy Seal rescuers for fueling anti-American sentiment:
The State Department webcast is scheduled for February 4 at 8 a.m. The description of the live video webchat says in part that Michel will discuss "how rap and hip hop have... bridged the socio-economic gaps among races," and is billed as part of the State Department's observance of Black History Month.
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