Mohammed Ali, known by his stage name the “Socialist Vocalist”, brought the energy to Friday’s solidarity strike through passionate and energized rap lyrics.
“When I say OPSEU, y’all say strong / OPSEU! STRONG! OPSEU! STRONG!/ When I say Socialist, y’all say Hip Hop/ SOCIALIST! HIP HOP! SOCIALIST! HIP HOP,” the rapper led the crowd in chants.
Ali got the masses moving with his particular talent at the rally, with strikers clapping along and cheering as lyrics flowed from the back of a pick-up truck.
“All and together, sister, brother sing this song. The union, yes the union, the union makes us strong,” rapped the activist musician, a lyric from his “Solidarity Forever”.
Ali has participated in strikes in the past as a student and has performed at several OPSEU events as an artist.
The GH Post was able to connect with Ali after the rally and asked several questions.
The Post What about the labour movement attracts you?
Ali Labour is a broad movement that brings together a large cross section of the working class. Through strength in numbers, organized labour is able to win real gains to improve the lives of all workers.
The Post Were you invited to today’s event?
Ali I was invited to the event today to perform and to share my experiences as a former college student.
The Post Was your performance volunteer or paid?
Ali I was provided an honorarium for performing today. I travelled 3 hours from Niagara Falls and had expenses such as travel. An honorarium is always helpful in making an event accessible to me, especially when travelling so far.
The Post What would you say to students who are concerned for their education?
Ali I feel that students need to work more closely with campus staff and faculty in fighting for a better education system. Be it lowering tuition fees or improving instructor-student class size ratios or gaining a stronger voice on campus, we are more effective when we are all united in fighting for a better education system.
The Post What would you say to faculty who are concerned for their jobs?
Ali I am in solidarity with faculty who are fighting to make sure that all students have a better education.
The Post How would you describe your rapping’s effectiveness?
Ali My music shares the stories of everyday people so it’s effective because it’s not only my story being told, but all of our stories.
The Post You got a crowd jumping–why are these rallies important in general and to you?
Ali It’s important to both educate as well as energize workers who are on strike. Walking the picket line day to day is not easy and any energy that can be instilled in workers walking the picket line only serves to strengthen their resolve for a just contract.
Image 1 of Mohammed Ali from The GH Post.