News / Arts & Entertainment

At Smithsonian Festival, Art and Music from Black DC Neighborhoods

At Smithsonian Festival, Art and Music from Black DC Neighborhoodsi
|| 0:00:00
X
Chris Simkins
July 04, 2012 11:06 PM
One featured attraction at the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival celebrates the culture in African American neighborhoods of Washington, DC. Chris Simkins reports many residents have maintained their American traditions along with African cultural roots and they're trying to pass them to younger generations in the form of art and music.

At Smithsonian Festival, Art and Music from Black DC Neighborhoods

Chris Simkins
WASHINGTON — One featured attraction at the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival celebrates the culture in African American neighborhoods of Washington, DC. Many residents have maintained their American traditions along with African cultural roots and they're trying to pass them to younger generations in the form of art and music.

One group at the festival performs using song and dance to showcase African traditions that are deeply rooted in Washington's black Southeast neighborhoods.

The group is performing "Taratibu," a South African dance that combines military drill movements with African traditions. This kind of cultural expression is front and center at this year's festival.

"Taratibu teaches their history and respect for each other, respect for your community and for your elders. And it shows the young people that they have to work as a community and not individually in order for us to make it as African Americans in this country," said Arla Scott, who directs the dance company. She says these teenagers are learning about their roots.  
 
This part of the Folklife Festival celebrates the creativity of African American neighborhoods in the southeast corner of the nation's capital. It highlights the connections among residents and how they pass along traditions through dance, art and music.

African-inspired art, especially murals, dot DC's Southeast neighborhoods. Jay Coleman says he's doing his part to keep neighborhood traditions alive.

"A lot of traditions are being passed on and perpetuated through the Southeast community through the churches, through the dance. All of those things that are a part of that community are still rich. It's a resilient community, and I think it deserves to be highlighted because much of what D.C. gets props for, a lot of it was rooted in Southeast," Coleman said.

Storytelling is also a rich tradition in African American culture.

Through his work, Baba-C teaches black history. "Washington, D.C. was not always a city where people of African decent could move freely without looking over their shoulders, and a lot of us took refuge in Southeast. But Southeast has a rich tradition of overcoming what you have perceived of not having and making it a strength not a weakness," he said.

Rap evolved in African American communities but it's rooted in African chanting. It too was on display.

Festival organizers say it's important to celebrate DC's southeast neighborhoods and pass along traditions that shaped the lives of African Americans there.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Paquito D'Rivera, who has won 12 Grammys, is celebrated both for his artistry in Latin jazz and his achievements as a classical composer. D'Rivera's latest project, “Jazz Meets the Classics,” was released this month. He joins us on the latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."