Photos By Maya Moore, Words By Brandon Wetherbee
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and Folklife Festival’s Freedom Sounds concert was exactly what it should’ve been.
Living Colour performed their biggest hit, “Cult of Personality,” in view of The White House.
Public Enemy didn’t shy away from their classics, reminding everyone that Elvis was still a hero to some but never meant shit to them.
The Roots, the unofficial house band of hip-hop and the official house band of The Tonight Show starring Donald Trump’s BFF, closed Saturday’s program.
Earlier that day former US President George W. Bush and current First Lady Michelle Obama shared a hug that went viral.
Saturday, September 24 was one of those days in D.C. that felt historic. A museum more than a decade in the making opened to acclaim. The shooting of Keith Morris in Charlotte loomed large.
This is the place to understand how protest and love of country don’t merely coexist, but inform each other. How men can proudly win the gold for their country, but still insist on raising a black gloved fist. How we can wear an “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt and still grieve for fallen police officers. Here’s the America where the razor sharp uniform of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff belongs alongside the cape of the Godfather of Soul.
The performers and attendees embodied those words. “Black Lives Matter and “I Can’t Breath” shirts were easy to spot. So were men in hats advertising the wars in which they fought. Living Colour performed a little “Sex Machine” and Public Enemy mourned the loss of their friend Bill Nunn, best known as Radio Raheem from Do The Right Thing.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture needed to exist. The timing of its opening, sadly, couldn’t have been better. A celebration in the midst of seemingly never-ending racism and injustice isn’t bad. Music from some of the most important hip-hop and metal acts provided both introspection and levity. Chuck D still wants the fight the power. And Flavor Flav just wants President Obama to invite him to The White House.