…Additionally, I can’t stress enough the importance of attending town halls. It’s an opportunity to ask candidates pertinent questions. Engaging with your local school board, city council, and other local governance is essential. I have a soft spot for local voting because it’s where immediate changes often happen.
I had the pleasure to talk to Mike Muse, who is helping to spearhead an initiative called Real Talk Drives Real Change. Mike Muse is a multifaceted professional known for his endeavors in the fields of music, politics, and pop culture. Beginning his journey as a Co-Founder of a record label, Mike soon established himself as a pop culture expert and political analyst. His unique approach involves intersecting the worlds of politics and pop culture to drive social change. Transitioning from an industrial engineer to a media entrepreneur and subsequently a tech entrepreneur, Mike is the Founder of LawChamps. His accolades in media include hosting SiriusXM’s award-winning “The Mike Muse Show”, co-hosting “Sway in the Morning”, and joining ABC News as a Contributor for ABC News Live and the Good Morning America family. His insightful take on “policy as lifestyle” led him to give two TED Talks and guest lectures at top universities, emphasizing the synergy between music business and politics.
Mike’s political engagements are notable, serving on President Barack Obama’s National Finance Committee and raising over $1 million in a year for the President, marking him as one of the youngest to achieve this feat. His commitment to entrepreneurship is evident from his appointments with the United States Small Business Administration for roles such as the My Brother’s Keeper, Millennial Entrepreneurial Champion, and representative for Millennials in Business at the Council of Underserved Communities. Beyond politics and business, tech remains close to Mike’s heart, proven by his recent fellowship with Google as a NextGen Tech Policy Fellow.
“Real Talk Drives Real Change” is an impactful initiative, now in its second year, spearheaded by Urban One and Chevrolet. This year, the program has partnered with prominent Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) for an inspiring four-city tour. The tour kickstarts on August 29th at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. Designed to foster significant conversations and feature eminent guests, panelists, and performers, the event promises to be enlightening and entertaining. At the forefront of this initiative is Mike Muse, who apart from being an Activist and Television News Correspondent, brings his unique perspective to the table. The tour also showcases talents like King Combs and others. The intent is to engage communities in meaningful discourse and bring about tangible change through dialogue and collaboration.
Yitzi: Mike, it’s a delight to meet you. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn about your personal origin story. Can you share the story of your childhood and how you grew up?
Mike: Absolutely, Yitzi. I’m Mike, originally from Lansing, Michigan. I attended the University of Michigan where I majored in Industrial Engineering. I spent four years in chemical research, which I truly loved. It instilled in me the values of critical analysis, thinking, and problem-solving. This solution-oriented mindset helped me start my own record label, Muse Recordings, after graduation.
Our label achieved remarkable success, partnering with renowned companies like Starbucks, Chrysler, McDonald’s, the NFL, the NBA, among others. That success then opened the doors to politics for me. I began working for a campaign by Senator Barack Obama, who, as we all know, later became President Barack Obama. I had the distinct honor of being one of the youngest individuals to raise a million dollars for a presidential candidate. Over the subsequent eight years, I served on the Democratic National Committee’s Finance Committee, worked on his inauguration committee, and also served as an ambassador for his My Brother’s Keeper program. Besides, I collaborated with various senators, congresspeople, mayors, and governors throughout our nation.
This journey made me appreciate the intersection of politics and pop culture. I wanted people to realize their voice in our democracy and recognize the influence of lifestyle, sports, music, film, fashion, and technology. It’s essential to understand that there’s a policy associated with every passion, and that’s what I enjoy discussing. Today, I channel this passion through my two shows on Sirius XM radio and my contributions to ABC News.
Yitzi: So, with such an expansive background, you must have had some fascinating adventures. Could you share one or two standout stories or anecdotes that offer glimpses into your life?
Mike: Yitzi, I’ve truly lived a remarkable life, and it’s challenging to pinpoint just one or two moments. I consider myself fortunate for the experiences I’ve had and cherish every day I get to do what I love. While some might search for incredible or extraordinary moments, for me, even the simple act of chatting with someone at my local coffee shop holds the same weight as addressing a large audience. Engaging with people, hearing their tales — that’s what makes every day extraordinary for me. So, pinpointing any single event doesn’t quite capture the essence of my journey.
Yitzi: Can you tell us about this new campaign across America? Maybe a heartwarming experience that gives us a sense of this current project?
Mike: Absolutely! I’m thrilled to be collaborating with Chevrolet on our program, “Road Talk Drives Road Change,” now in its second year. We’ve initiated some insightful discussions that have taken place all over the country. One I’m particularly eager about is at Morgan State University, where we’ll focus on black futures.
I’m really enthusiastic about the intersection of technology and cultural policy. For instance, we’ve been exploring artificial intelligence, especially with tools like chat GPT. While AI can often be seen in a negative, almost apocalyptic light, and we need safeguards to ensure its benefits are harnessed while protecting communities and societies globally, there’s immense potential in AI, especially for the black community. From reimagining education to aiding small businesses in scaling, technology can fill in where there might be financial gaps. Think about the capabilities of AI in strategic marketing or innovative payment systems. It’s a vision of the future where AI acts as a force for good and uplifts black communities worldwide.
Another key topic is creating safe spaces for black men. Education is vital here. We need to recognize that not every black individual learns the same way, especially black boys. I’ve delved deep into research and written about the perilous trajectory for black boys who aren’t reading proficiently by the end of third grade. The data indicates a disturbing link to the school-to-prison pipeline.
It’s crucial that we provide customized tools and methods that resonate with black boys. Moreover, the prevailing view of black boys as being “animated” or “expressive” can be harmful. There’s data showing these young men face higher suspension and detention rates. Instead of confining them to the basketball court, how about expansive green spaces where they can explore freely?
All these discussions and ideas have been shaped in collaboration with some amazing people. This isn’t your regular speaking tour; it’s innovative, just like me. I’m stoked to kick off this tour and see where it takes us.
Yitzi: Are there specific steps the community, society, or government can take to support your mission?
Mike: Absolutely, Yitzi. First and foremost, it’s vital for every American to recognize that their vote counts. It plays a crucial role in our democracy, especially at the local level. This means actively participating by voting for positions like the mayor, local judges, and district attorneys. These roles are integral to shaping the community in ways that matter to its members.
Additionally, I can’t stress enough the importance of attending town halls. It’s an opportunity to ask candidates pertinent questions. Engaging with your local school board, city council, and other local governance is essential. I have a soft spot for local voting because it’s where immediate changes often happen.
It’s also crucial for the government to genuinely understand communities. This means more than just sporadic visits. I’m talking about genuine, authentic engagement. They should sit with the people, listen to the citizens, and learn from them. Only then can they craft policies that genuinely benefit the community. It’s all about not having a one-size-fits-all approach and really tuning in to what people need.
Yitzi: With the current state of our country, the United States doesn’t feel very united. Given your close connection to influential circles, how can we come together and find common ground?
Mike: I believe the key lies in understanding that we’re not all that different. Sure, we have varied interests and backgrounds, but it’s essential to recognize and respect those differences. When we do that, it lays the foundation for productive conversations and progress.
Yitzi: Beautiful answer. Alright, here’s our final aspirational question. Given the significant influence you have due to your platform and commendable work, if you could inspire a movement or spread an idea to benefit the most people, what would that be? Because one never knows the ripple effects of a single idea.
Mike: Always think big and dream even bigger. Don’t shy away from it.
Yitzi: Do you ever see yourself running for office?
Mike: Not anymore. While there was a time when I considered an elected office, I no longer have that desire. What I’ve learned from my journey is that you don’t need an official title to make an impact. There are countless ways to create change without being in office.
Yitzi: That was enlightening. How can our readers follow your work or get involved in this new initiative with Chevrolet?
Mike: Absolutely! They can start by following me on Instagram and other social media platforms at “iamikemuse.com”. They can also check out my website iammikemuse.com Most importantly, they’re welcome to join us at our first stop on the tour at Baltimore’s Morgan State University. It’s the kick-off for season two of this tour, and I’m thrilled about it. I think the best place to get more details would be on newsone.
Yitzi: Mike, thank you for this insightful conversation. You’re truly inspirational. I wish you continued success and blessings. I hope we can meet in person someday.
Mike: I’d love that.
Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Mike Muse Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.