And Still We Rise: Overstanding the Hiphop Declaration of Peace

And Still We Rise: Overstanding the Hiphop Declaration of Peace

"We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline." ~Excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s I Have A Dream speech

The Hiphop Declaration of Peace is a document comprised of 18 Principles that guide the culture toward a foundation of peace, health, wealth, love, awareness, freedom, and prosperity. On May 16th 2001, the The Hiphop Declaration of Peace was presented to the United Nations Organization, and the culture was recognized as “an international culture of peace and prosperity.” It was then that Hip Hop Independence Day was established.

Eighteen years later, Hip Hop culture is as prominent as ever. Those within the culture have become leaders in varying capacities, and the product nature of hip-hop now generates billions annually. As we take time to celebrate the culture’s successes during Hip Hop Appreciation Week 2019, it is imperative we also pause and “FOCUS” on the 7 gems embodied in the 18 principles of The Hiphop Declaration of Peace, a document that exemplifies the ideals reflected in Dr. King’s beloved community and provides a blueprint for “our children and their children’s children, forever.”

Who We Are

The 1st Principle defines Hip Hop as “our collective consciousness,” commonly expressed through the 9 elements of Breakin, Emceein, Graf, Deejayin, Beatboxin, Street Fashion, Street Language, Street Knowledge and Street Entrepreneurialism or Street Trade.

To know this is to truly understand the nature of Hip Hop.


When The Hiphop Declaration of Peace was presented to the U.N. 18 years ago, the focus on conscious living and mutual respect were paramount. Fostering healthy relationships is a major tenet of the 6th, 10th, and 17th Principles, and a common theme throughout the document.

Financial Prosperity and the Product Nature of hip-hop

The 7th Principle of The Hiphop Declaration of Peace makes it clear that Hip Hop culture is not a product and not for sell. Yet it also recognizes the elements of the culture may be “traded for money, honor, power, respect, food, and other resources.” This nuance is key in understanding prosperity’s role in the culture, which is defined at length in the 5th and 8th Principles.

Civil Rights and Social Justice

On May 16, 2001, the U.N. recognized Hip Hop as an international culture, largely due to its equal opportunity influence throughout the globe, particularly amongst disenfranchised groups. The 2nd, 11th, and 12th Principles highlight the importance of equity, love, and the sanctity of life. These Principles also condemn discrimination, and “any form of hate, deceit, or theft at any time.”

The Environment

In 2019, concerns about the environment are taking centerstage. However, within Hip Hop culture, respecting nature and contributing positively to “Mother Earth” have been paramount, as illustrated in the 14th and 15th Principles.


In an era when various forms of violence are at an all time high, particularly within communities where the culture thrives, it is crucial to remember peace is the foundation of Hip Hop. According to the 13th Principle, Hip Hop culture “rejects the immature impulse for unwarranted acts of violence, and always seeks diplomatic, non-violent strategies first in the settlement of all disputes.” Honoring this tenet, and not “irresponsibly” breaking laws, as stated in the 3rd Principle, are vital if we are to elevate the culture to new heights.


The tenet of Legacy is illustrated throughout the 4th, 9th, 16th, and 18th Principles of The Hiphop Declaration of Peace. It is through these Principles that hiphoppas are directed to honor and celebrate the ancestors, while protecting the culture with dignity and in love. These Principles introduce the idea of creating an even more defined culture that can withstand the tests of time.

According to Minista Zin Uru of the Temple of Hip Hop, when the foundation was laid to declare Hip Hop an international culture of peace and prosperity, the long-range goal was to create “Hiphoppia”, a “fully functional and robust Hiphop city built upon the ingenuity and creativity Hiphop was founded on.” By following the 18 Principles, and the Hip Hop prophesy spoken by Dr. King in his “I Have a Dream” speech, this too can become a reality.

Long live Hip Hop.


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