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Welfare Poets

Award Recipients - 2003

Hector Rivera & Raw Ramirez, Co-Founders

www.welfarepoets.com

The Welfare Poets is a group of spoken word artists, musicians and activists who utilize indigenous forms of expression such as Bomba y Plena, Afro-Cuban jazz, Funk, Blues, Spoken Word and Hip-Hop as a way “to inform and inspire” about contemporary human rights issues.  Their stated mission is “to use the power of arts and culture to bring people together to realize their potential and address social, political, and economic issues by organizing solutions for the critical concerns facing communities of color.”  
The Welfare Poets categorize their work in three areas: activism, education and performance.  Activism entails working side-by-side with community organizers to disseminate information about social justice issues in an artistic way as well as participating directly in organizing efforts.  Since the late 1990s, the Welfare Poets have joined campaigns for environmental justice, against police brutality and for the removal of the United States military from Vieques.  The Welfare Poets also do writing workshops in after-school programs and colleges, and have conducted training for public school teachers and principals.
The Welfare Poets are recognized as conveyors of positive action for urban youth.  In 2000, the group released its first album and continues to perform at a range of venues.  The success lies in presenting a social justice message through urban cultural forms that create a performance that is entertaining as well as enlightening.    


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