The Malcolm X Drum Circle


This is a guest article by Rob Klug, a great local photographer in D.C. You’ll frequently see him on Sundays documenting the rhythms and joys of the drum circle. You can see more of Rob’s work on Instagram. Thanks so much, Rob!


The drum circle is an event which is truly unique to Washington DC and very dear to my heart.  The drum circle draws a kaleidoscope of drummers, dancers, jugglers, acrobats and artists from all walks of life and backgrounds to it every Sunday and is really a quintessential Washington experience not to be found anywhere else.  Many people, including myself, find the drum circle to be a kind of religious experience.  The beat and rhythm of the drums are intoxicating, I literally feel the rhythm of the drums reverberate down my spine and no matter what my mood is I find myself to be uplifted and catapulted into a joyous place.

One sees this especially with the dancers,  the music carries them into an entirely different world, they are physically present but spiritually they have been carried to an entirely different place. It’s a fascinating and wonderful thing to see and an honor to be able to photograph.

The drum circle began during the civil rights movement in the 1960’s as a celebration of black liberation and also to honor African heritage.  On February 12, 1965, the day that Malcolm X was assassinated drummers joined in the park in remembrance to him and since then the drum circle has been called the Malcolm X Park Drum Circle.

All photographs copyright to Rob Klug.


Dedicated to the memory of members of the drum circle who have died:

  • Baba Ngoma
  • Barnett Williams
  • Simbo Goodmond
  • Tony Duncanson

To see more of the drum circle, join the Facebook group Friends of Malcolm X Park Drum Circle and watch this video by the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum.

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