Russell Simmons for Obama

So Russell Simmons has put out a statement explaining his endorsement of Barack Obama for president.

It’s not necessarily a natural choice for Simmons, given how involved he has become in New York State politics. He previously endorsed Andrew Cuomo for office and made numerous trips to Albany during George Pataki’s governorship to reform the Rockefeller drug sentencing laws.

In his endorsement, Simmons writes, "I have great respect for the accomplishments of Senator Clinton and I have personally worked with Senator Clinton successfully on issues concerning education, prison reform and poverty."

But in the end, Simmons, who brought rap music from the predominantly black audience into middle class consciousness with groups like Run D.M.C., the Beastie Boys and solo artists like L.L. Cool J, says he’s supporting Obama because the Illinois senator “has and will continue to transcend race in America.”

Although Obama has a wide lead in the world of hip-hop endorsements, Hillary Clinton does have her supporters, including Darryl McDaniels, a.k.a. D.M.C. of Run D.M.C., and Timbaland.

Here is Russell Simmons’ statement about Obama:

Today I am announcing my personal endorsement of Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States. During the last nine months, I have closely observed the presidential campaigns, analyzed the issues and platforms of the major candidates, and have had substantive discussions with Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. From the sidelines of the primaries and debates, I have been particularly inspired by the fact that Senator Obama has built an unprecedented, national movement comprised of people from all ethnic, racial, political, social and economic backgrounds.

In particular, the response to Obama by young voters across America continues to be monumental. Obama’s leadership, passion and demand for a change resonates effectively with the aspirations of millions of people who want a better quality of life. This is truly a transcendent and historic moment in American politics and I am obligated not to remain on the sidelines.

Although I have great respect for the accomplishments of Senator Clinton and I have personally worked with Senator Clinton successfully on issues concerning education, prison reform and poverty, I am now compelled by my own personal conscience to publicly state, "I support and endorse Barack Obama for President."

As the Chairman of the non-partisan, nonprofit The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, it is my personal opinion that Senator Obama’s campaign for President has and will continue to transcend race in America and have a profound positive impact on the very issues I have been fighting for my whole life. Many of you know my work as Chairman of the non-partisan, nonprofit Hip-Hop Summit Action Network. Hip-Hop as a cultural phenomena is also about transformation and taking action to end poverty, war and ignorance. While I am endorsing Senator Obama as a private citizen, I am in complete solidarity with the transformative consciousness of the growing number artists and young people from the hip-hop generation that are overwhelmingly supporting Obama.