Freedom Sounds: The Opening of the National African American History and Culture Museum

By Jaylin Paschal

Freedom Sounds was a three day music and culture festival celebrating the opening of the Smithsonian National African American History and Culture Museum. The festival was held just below the Washington Monument on the National Mall, beside the museum building.

I attended Day 2, which was the day of the dedication ceremony where President Obama officially opened the museum to the public. An excited crowd of thousands gathered to engage in a day of song, dance, and art. I was able to see great performances from Living Colour and Public Enemy. But, most importantly, I saw The Roots deliver the best live performance I've ever witnessed. Life-changing.

I had an amazing time celebrating the museum as it made history by capturing history. I was able to participate in something larger than myself, as the black community and others experienced and expressed empowerment. I thoroughly understand the importance of this day in the context of what Dr. Mario Beatty explained to Howard University College of Arts and Sciences students in a lecture: "A museum on the National Mall represents a national memory."

I covered the festival for Howard University's The Hilltop.