DETROIT - The way the Rev. Al Sharpton sees it, Detroit is the best place to announce his plan to clean up hip-hop music.
After all, the city produced famous Motown legends such as Marvin Gaye, who Sharpton said found a way to talk about love without being disrespectful toward women.
“They did not make women objects of denigration,” Sharpton said Saturday outside the Motown Museum.
Sharpton and the Rev. Horace L. Sheffield III, pastor of New Galilee Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit, announced the kickoff of the Decency in Hip Hop Campaign in Detroit. The goal is to remove three offensive words that have become common vernacular of some hip-hop artists.
Organizers plan to roll out the campaign, which was launched last month in New York, in Los Angeles next week. Over the next two months, they hope to collect thousands of bars of soap as symbols of the effort to clean up music. “We know it can be done,” Sheffield said.
Sharpton took record companies to task for allowing vulgar words to be used toward blacks while preventing such language to be used against other minority groups. He gave examples of record companies pulling records that used demeaning language toward ethnic groups.
He wants the same tactics used with hip-hop. “They just don’t apply these standards to the African-American community,” said Sharpton, whose National Action Network is involved in the campaign. “This has gone on long enough.”
Brandon White, 24, is involved in the campaign through the U.S. Student Association, a grassroots group that organizes students for causes. White said use of offensive slang hurts women and the black community.
“We need to get these words out of our community,” he said.
Sharpton, who led the charge to have radio host Don Imus fired this year over his comments about a group of African-American female athletes, expects a long fight with record companies before they adopt new standards.
“We can’t fight Imus outside our community and not fight the syndrome in our own community,” he said.