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Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Giving Voice

Giving Voice

The Power of Words
in African American Culture

Giving Voice will present the deep, rich threads of the African American oral tradition. Through the power of words, African Americans have given voice to the needs, hopes, aspirations, and dreams of a people whose traditions are a major force in American culture. The program will showcase this living legacy by featuring exemplary bearers of oral traditions on the National Mall.

Through theater, poetry, storytelling, radio, and humor, the Giving Voice program will celebrate the community roots of African American oral expression. During performances, discussions, radio broadcasts, children's programming, and community celebrations, Festival visitors will hear many compelling stories about the struggle of a people to create a voice and communicate a culture. For example, visitors will experience the role of radio in stimulating and disseminating Black expressive culture, and hear how storytellers, poets, and actors draw upon their experiences at home and in community spaces to create and present their art.

Introduction and comments about the Giving Voice program from John Franklin of NMAAHC.

The Giving Voice program is part of a long history of exploring Black expressive culture at the Festival. The 1975 Smithsonian Folklife Festival featured a program on the African Diaspora. Photo courtesy of Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archive and Collections, Smithsonian Institution.