George Martinez, (born March 11, 1974), also known as "George Rithm Martinez" and "Hon. George Martinez", is an American educator, activist, artist and hip-hop political pioneer. He is an adjunct professor of political science at Pace University and a cultural/ hip-hop ambassador for the U.S. Department of State. He is a former elected Democratic Party district leader in the 51st Assembly District in Sunset Park, Brooklyn and a former Assistant Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the Office of the New York State Attorney General. He is the first hip-hop artist elected to political office in New York.
Martinez is the founder and director of the nonprofit organization, The Global Block Foundation. In 2011, he became associated with New York City's Occupy Wall Street and Occupy the Hood movement, and he recorded a hip-hop anthem music video, called Occupation Freedom, in connection with the movement. Occupation Freedom, the OWS hip-hop anthem was released on the Occupy This Album compilation album which feature artists such as Jackson Browne, David Crosby & Graham Nash, Willie Nelson and filmmaker Michael Moore among others.
In 2012, he organized an occupy inspired electoral direct action called Bum Rush The Vote, which fueled his candidacy for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives to represent the newly drawn 7th Congressional District in New York City. Martinez is the first Occupy Wall Street activist to secure a place on a Congressional ballot. His candidacy drew widespread media attention including a cover story in the Village Voice.
A decision by local cable television channel NY1 to close him out of a public debate of several candidates for the Congressional seat sparked further media interest pushing the story viral on Twitter and social media networks. Martinez protested that he had fulfilled several obligations, such as filing a report with the Federal Election Commission. Martinez ultimately did participate in the live debate.
George graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1992. He is the first person in his immediate family to go to college receiving his A.A. in Liberal Arts from Borough of Manhattan Community in 1996 and his B.A. in Political Science (Magna Cum Laude) in 1998. He was the recipient of the competitive Robert L. Lindsay Memorial /MAGNET Doctoral Fellowship at the CUNY Graduate Center in the Political Science program.
George began his teaching career as an adjunct lecturer at Hunter College of the City University of New York. George is currently an adjunct professor of political science at Pace University in New York, where he teaches American Politics and a self-developed course, "The Politics of Hip Hop".
Martinez is a long time social entrepreneur and grassroots organizer. In 1997, Martinez co-founded Blackout Arts Collective, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering communities of color through arts activism and education. In 2002, he and Blackout received the Union Square Award for Grass Roots Activism.
Martinez served as the Chairman of the board of directors for the Hip Hop Association (H2A). The Hip Hop Association received the Union Square Award for the Arts in 2007.
In 2008, he was branded as an "Urban Hero" for his work with homeless children at Covenant House in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
In 2012, in the wake of super storm Sandy, George was identified as one of 3 "Hip Hop Luminaries" that donated their time and energy to the post-storm relief and Occupy Sandy fundraising efforts, along with Immortal Technique and Jasiri X.
In 2013, Martinez was selected as a 40 Under 40 Rising Latino Stars of New York State by the Hispanic Coalition of NY, Inc.
In 1995, Martinez discovered a young female rapper named, What? What? who later became known as Jean Grae and recruited her for his experimental Hip Hop group, Ground Zero. In March 1996, Martinez (Rithm) appeared as the Unsigned Hype in The Source along with rapper, Jean Grae.
In 2013, Martinez's song, "Occupation Freedom" (2011), was identified by the "Stream Community" on the Al Jazeera America network as a "newer addition" to the top 15 political/ social hip-hop songs ever. The list also included, "U.N.I.T.Y" by Queen Latifah, "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, and "Changes" by 2pac.