Founded by award wining Lecturer and Author, Adisa Banjoko and artist Leo “Blast” Libiran, the Hip-Hop Chess Federation (HHCF) uses music, chess and martial arts to promote unity, strategy and non-violence. The vision is rooted in the belief that our role is to provide an authentic platform that allows people the opportunity to actualize their dreams and hopes for themselves, their families and the communities they serve.
“Despite the school systems best efforts and intentions, and the efforts of overworked parents, the past generations have suffered from lack of suitable education and essential resources required for a successful life,” states co-founder Adisa Banjoko, “We recognized that chess, martial arts and hip-hop unify people from multiple cultural, religious and social backgrounds. These black and white squares do not care what color you are or if you are rich or poor. The only thing they ask is “show me your strategy, your patience and your skills.”
Along with recreational activities, the Hip Hop Chess Federation provides services such as life strategy workshops and sponsor supported education scholarships. Studies show chess provides invaluable life lessons such as patience, personal accountability, focus, emotional intelligence and understanding the consequences of your actions before you act.
“I recently learned of a study that illustrated prisoners participating in chess clubs had a less chance of returning to prison after their release,” Banjoko says, “I want to bring chess to the communities and get to the kids before the prison system gets to them”.
After nearly two years in the making, the Hip Hop Chess Federation launched its nationwide tour on February 23, 2007 in San Jose, CA. Rappers, movie producers, mixed martial art (MMA) fighters and other entertainers volunteered their time to support the community, including world renowned DJ QBert, international chess Master Vinay Bhat, Casual from the legendary Hip-Hop group Hieroglyphics, award-winning filmmaker Kevin Epps and martial artists champions Denny Prokopos and Alan “Gumby” Marques. These names drew crowds from all over California, and overflowed the Martin Luther King Library beyond capacity.
“The inaugural event was so far beyond our expectations. We knew that the goal of expanding the minds of today’s youth could be reached through such an event, but I was amazed at the response during and after the tournament,” Libiran adds. “We’ve received requests from New York, Chicago, Texas and even London to bring the tournament to their cities. It is amazing, exciting and rewarding all at the same time.”