Singer, composer, producer and activist Toshi Reagon is proud to present the fifth annual installment of “Word, Rock & Sword: A Festival Exploration of Women’s Lives.” This celebration, which runs Sept. 13 to 20, will be rich with concerts, talkbacks, wellness activities and film screenings, all focusing on justice and civil and women’s rights.
With what started as a simple idea for a concert fueled by women but meant for all, to bring together a community in response to a shift in the political agenda after the 2010 midterm elections, where incoming politicians made attacking women’s rights a top priority, turned into a weeklong festival aimed at addressing issues facing our global community. Reagon’s intentions for this year’s festival stay the same. She states, “While it’s been five years since WRS began, we still struggle with a political climate that tolerates and actively encourages systemic gender and race discrimination. I wanted to create a space where we can come together as a community and use our words, songs and art to address our concerns on racism, violence, economic disparity, civil rights, gender equality and LGBTQI rights. These eight days are a time to share our voices, our gifts and focus our intentions for the greater good and ultimately result in these voices taking their rightful place in the mainstream.”
The festival’s flagship event is the capstone concert Sept. 19 at Le Poisson Rouge. More than 20 musicians and artists will come together to share their gifts and celebrate women’s lives. Artists confirmed to perform include Reagon herself, Arooj Aftab, SassyBlack, Imani Uzuri, Joan as a Police Woman, Be Steadwell, Nona Hendryx, and Las Krudas Tamar-kali, with Dopeshoes as DJ and comedienne Karen Williams as the emcee.
Other highlights of the festival include a tactical discussion on what voting can do for you and what you can do for it with the 2016 elections around the corner, at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (Sept. 14); an evening of performance and conversation at the Ford Foundation Auditorium presented by WRS and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice titled “Beyond the Hashtag: Using Art and Technology to Combat the Criminalization of our Communities” (Sept. 15); a film screening in conjunction with Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration (Sept. 18), as well as health and wellness seminars interspersed throughout the week’s events.
A majority of the events are free with RSVP. For the full lineup, visit www.wordrocksword.com.