Thursday night in Washington, D.C., was a clusterfuck for anyone traveling into or out of the city. As swarms of red-hat-wearing idiots embarked onto the city’s landscape to attend Friday’s Pissauguration, there was one silver lining to the dismal reality that Donald Trump is really becoming president.
D.C.’s popular Busboys and Poets bookstore and restaurant held its Peace Ball: Voices of Hope and Resistance at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The event was met with much fanfare and drew people such as Danny Glover, Van Jones, Angela Davis, Ashley Judd, Melissa Harris-Perry, Marian Wright Edelman and Sen. Cory Booker, as well as performers Solange Knowles and Esperanza Spalding.
As soon as Harris-Perry took the stage, she spoke with fire and urged resistance as she recounted how she told her students about stories of aspiration days after the election.
“It is important that we tell the aspirational stories of who we are as a people,” Harris-Perry stated. “I am glad that we tell aspirational American stories. I am glad that when Thomas Jefferson sat on the Monticello Mountain in 1776 that he did not write a slave document, that he said, ‘All persons are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ but that shit was not true.”
Harris-Perry also spoke about the difference between America and ’Merica and made it clear which one we’re living in now.
“Dream about America,” Harris-Perry continued, “tell a story about America, but damn, you live in ’Merica.”
The first performer to grace the stage was Spalding, who previously discussed the event with The Root. With her bass and the assistance of Afro Blue, Howard University’s choir, the singer did not disappoint.
As the night went on, Booker, Jones and Edelman urged the attendees to keep on fighting and protesting. But the pièce de résistance came when, shortly after Jones called Trump an “orange nightmare,” he brought Angela Davis to the stage.
As Davis approached the stage, the crowd was in an uproar. Some people had tears streaming from their eyes; others had their fists in the air. But no one anticipated Davis’ introduction of Solange Knowles. Davis remarked that her music gave a voice to those who believe in resisting and marching to the beat of their own drum.
“And so certainly in our resistance, we need art. We need music. We need poetry. You’ve witnessed some amazing examples of creativity on this stage. Now you’ll witness the performance of one who will tell us to produce the anthems of our sister,” Davis said of Solange.
Sadly, the theme of peace ended shortly after we left the ball. Once my colleagues from Essence and I attempted to make our way back to Busboys, a swarm of drunk Trump supporters, who were still out in the streets at 1 a.m., made it clear what they thought of us. From a random white woman yelling, “Make America great again,” and her hotel golf cart driven by a black man, to another drunkard in his chauffeured SUV sticking his head out to yell the same thing, it was clear that Harris-Perry was right.
We are living in ’Merica.