Following an appearance on the American Idol television show early in 2010, 62-year-old novelty rapper General Larry Platt found himself with an instant viral hit with the impossibly infectious “Pants on the Ground,” a storyline that could probably only belong to the 21st century. Platt was far from a garden-variety overnight sensation enjoying his 15 minutes of fame, though. He has a long history of social commitment that began in the early '60s when he was only 16 years old. Platt worked hard to fight racial segregation in the South, working with activist groups like the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Platt was given his "General" nickname by civil rights leader Reverend Hosea Williams, who was impressed by Platt's tireless commitment to fairness in the world. Platt remained a community activist in the Atlanta area all of his life, working with the United Youth Adult Conference, fighting public foreclosures, raising awareness about social issues all across the board. He was even awarded his own holiday by the Georgia General Assembly, which declared September 4, 2001 Larry Platt Day for his “priceless and immeasurable contributions to society and his great energy and commitment to equality and the protection of the innocent and for his outstanding service to the Atlanta community and the citizens of Georgia." It’s an impressive legacy, and in this context, the startling success of “Pants on the Ground” seems like a bit of an odd blip. It’s a funny world, but thanks to Platt, it might be a fairer one.
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