John Mellencamp Takes A Stand For Homeless Plight

Before taking the stage July 15 at Caesars Windsor “The Colosseum” in Ontario, John Mellencamp squeezed in time to record a public-service announcement in support of Toledo, Ohio’s homeless population.

Toledo homeless advocate Ken Leslie and a small video crew met up with Mellancamp at the singer-songwriter’s hotel to record a video for Toledo’s Tent City event Oct. 29-31 and another for the first World Homeless Day Oct. 10.

Mellencamp was also interviewed by the Toledo Streets, a newspaper for and by local homeless people.

Photo: AP Photo
Farm Aid Concert, St. Louis, Mo.

After struggling with how fast a computer screen was scrolling the text of the PSA and complaining that it was “like the Gettysburg Address,” Leslie invited Mellencamp to put it in his own words.

Mellencamp mentioned that the 2007 Tent City event had a great impact on him, according to the Toledo Blade. That year the singer visited Tent City to talk with the homeless in downtown Toledo.

The annual event puts a “spotlights on the needs of the impoverished, near homeless and homeless individuals, families and children” of Toledo, according to

The singer said he was inspired to get involved with social justice causes, including the civil rights movement, after playing in a racially mixed soul band as a teenager.

“It all started with race,” he told the Toledo Blade. “We had a black lead singer and I saw the way people treated him.”

Mellencamp was asked what advice he would give to someone who was homeless or who was on the verge of becoming homeless. The singer encouraged those who might be down-and-out to keep their chins up.

“People give up too easily. I’ve been writing about that since I was a kid. ‘Jack and Diane’ [was] about kids who just quit.”

Click here for the Toledo Blade story.

Click here for John Mellencamp’s official website.