Universal Hip Hop Parade

The year 2023 will be memorable because Hip-Hop is celebrating its 50th anniversary. On Saturday, Aug. 12, as part of NYC’s 50th Anniversary celebration, plans are for the Universal Hip-Hop Parade (UHHP) for Social Justice to hold its best social justice/Hip-Hop parade ever through the streets of Bed-Stuy. 

The parade is a mashup celebration of both the legacy of Marcus Garvey and the creativity of Hip-Hop culture. 

Garvey was arguably the greatest mass organizer of people. Without the modern technology of cellphones and computers, Garvey built a worldwide organization dedicated to uplifting Black people who were oppressed globally. 

Hip-Hop has grown from Kool Herc’s South Bronx basement party on August 11, 1973, to become the world’s pop culture. Anywhere on the planet, youth and adults embrace the multidimensional art form. 

Since 2000, recognizing these two influential and global movements as the 20th century was winding down, the UHHP decided to combine them into the Universal Hip-Hop Parade for Social Justice and create a new form of edutainment for the community.

This year, legendary Hip-Hop icons are in place as Ambassadors of the culture to assist in making the 2023 UHHP social justice procession as energetic, uplifting, and enjoyable as possible. Ambassadors representing the original elements include James Top (graffiti), Ralph McDaniels (video), King Uprock (dance), Phoenix Orion (rap), and Hard Hittin’ Harry (DJ). 

On Saturday, Feb. 25, at 1 p.m., the UHHP will host a “Black/Hip-Hop History” Activation networking and fundraising event at the Bed-Stuy Restoration Plaza with most of the Ambassadors.

The UHHP organization is a grassroots, voluntary association that helps young adults, college students, and community members plan, build, and implement the parade and related community events. Over the years, the parade has showcased activist marchers, bikers, car clubs, floats, graffiti banners, marching bands, martial arts schools, motorcycle clubs, sound trucks, stilt walkers, and more. Families and individuals often march in the procession while others view the parade from the sidewalk. 

Starting at the historic Magnolia Tree Earth Center, the procession goes down Lafayette Ave. to meet up at Marcus Garvey Blvd. (MGB). Along the parade route, the procession stops to acknowledge various community institutions. The Bed-Stuy Volunteer Ambulance Corps (BSVAC) has traditionally been the first stop. 

Most people don’t know that the founder of the BSVAC was a popular DJ: James “Rocky” Robinson, who died in 2019. He would set up a sound system and blast music before and after the parade procession passed by. 

Continuing down MGB, the next regular stop is the Bed-Stuy Boxing Gym. Brother Nate, who manages the ] gym, sets up a sound system where uprockers and other b-boy dancers display their skills before joining the procession. 

The procession then passes the park at PS 44, Brown Sugar, and Bethany Baptist Church before turning onto Fulton Street. 

The parade then goes into the heart of Bed-Stuy’s commercial district, passing the Bed-Stuy Restoration Plaza, going through the busy Nostrand Ave. and Fulton St. intersection before ending at Bedford Ave., where the legendary Slave Theater used to stand.For more information about UHHP organization activities or the August 12 parade, contact the UHHP at 718-635-1801, uhhp4socialjustice@gmail.com (email), or IG: @theuhhp.

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