Who is John "Vietnam" Nguyen?
John was an emcee, poet, breakdancer, and activist from Uptown, Chicago. Born to a Vietnamese mother and Vietnam War veteran father, his art was an embodiment of a soul coming to terms with his Hapa identity and place within a community that is torn apart by the struggle. He participated in the Kuumba Lynx program and competed in Louder Than A Bomb honing his poetry and spoken word skills. As a student at Lane Tech and a leading member of the Multi-Cultural Youth Project he came into his own as an emcee, and as a well-rounded hip-hop artist. Many of our members were friends of John during his time at these community organizations.
John Vietnam was about to start his sophomore year in the First Wave program at University of Wisconsin-Madison when he passed away while saving a friend from drowning. The entry video to the First Wave program is below.
After his passing, his peers started Elephant Rebellion to carry on the legacy, values, and art that John lived by: empowering community through art and education.