Words, Beats & Life is a community organization founded in 2000, dedicated to using the “transformative power of hip-hop” to help youth in the community. It’s well known for its arts activities, including massive paint jams that we’ve had fun photographing in 2015 and 2016.
In addition to the arts activities, Words, Beats & Life runs many programs and free classes in poetry, DJ’ing, chess, and other activities that fit into their teaching goals of “Skill-Set Mastery, Employability, the Pursuit of a Post-Secondary Education, Community, and Self Mastery” for youths ages 13-23. On Saturday, they sponsored a large festival at Marvin Gaye Park in Anacostia, showcasing many of their activities, combined with an emphasis on healthy living. The festival was named after Phife Dawg, the rapper and founder of A Tribe Called Quest, who died a few months ago from complications of diabetes.
Despite the soaring heat, there was lots of enthusiasm. The drum circle helped propel the energy:
The music was strong and emotional:
For the more energetic, there were field sports:
And for the cerebral, there were chess games and a tournament. Chess is one of the programs run at the Words Beats & Life Academy.
It was exciting to watch several mural artists as their work progressed:
The festival was one more way that Words, Beats & Life showcased its statement that “at the heart of all that we do is the belief that an education based in Hip-Hop can serve as a wedge between hope and despair for DC youth.”
All images copyright Victoria Pickering