Storyteller Bill Grimmette was nestled in one of the galleries, telling tales that intrigued children and adults alike, while outside beneath the grand staircase, Nigerian comedian Yvonne Orji infused a little humor into the day which preceded solemn remembrances of 9/11.
In another part of the museum, Gina Paige of African Ancestry, sporting a well-coifed Afro, told the audience about her work and how they too could discover where in Africa their lineage hailed from. On a racier note, female models in colorful Afro wigs and skyscraper heels, and shirtless male models strutted the latest fashions around the artworks of Henrique Oliveira and Sandile Zulu in the Alarm Call Fashion Show, featuring fashion from Morgan State University. Afterward, the announcer encouraged people to engage with the models and have their pictures taken with them.
Director of the National Museum of African Art, Dr. Johnetta B. Cole was obliging, posing with models for photos in her chic African garb. Meanwhile, upstairs Diallo Bumbry introduced the high-energy performance by Urban Artisty, whose goal to keep the urban arts alive was well represented as the 17 dancers ranging from young adults to children demonstrated the dances that define hip-hop culture and the history of urban dance. Defying gravity and belief, the dancers popped, free-styled and break danced their way across the floor for the better part of an hour, gaining an encore presentation that let dancers do their own thing.
Emcee Dehejia Maat had her turn at the mike, opening her poetry and music set with an a cappella rendition of Billie Holiday's "God Bless the Child" before reciting works from her repertoire of spoken word and original songs. She then turned the mike over to Glenn Gordon who entreated the audience to a sampling from his theatrical production "Re: Definition," a combination of poetry, performance art and humor aimed at his own self-discovery and celebration of his African roots.
Others who wanted more hands-on activities could participate in a Calligraphy Scrolls workshop conducted by Pier Penic, and both children and adults were invited to decorate their bodies by having their faces painted or henna art on their hands.
The day-long event ended with a concert by locally-based Afrobeat band Chopteeth, who closed out the show with an hour-long concert, bringing this year's festivities to a close. Fortunately, those who still didn't want to go home had only to step outside the door, where the Dorothy I. Height Black Family Reunion was still in full swing on the National Mall.