PHOTO: March 2021 at the Washington Film Festival Gala

Rep. Lauren Underwood presented House Majority Whip James Clyburn in March at the Washington Film Festival’s John Robert Lewis Lifetime Legacy Award at this year’s gala.

Running until October 11, March started at the Washington Film Festival last week with the biggest opening night gala in its history. The festival’s goal is to “tell, celebrate and raise awareness about the countless events and icons and foot soldiers, celebrities and singers, about the civil rights movement.”

Union Market’s outdoor Dock 5 room hosted the majority of this year’s personal festival events.
Place settings at the gala.
An episode of BET and CBS News’ six-part documentary series, “Boiling Point,” was one of the festival’s screenings this year.

“Stories of courage about the history of our nation are everywhere – hidden from ordinary eyes,” said the festival’s founder Robert Ravens. “March about Washington [Film Festival] is honored to bring these stories to life. ”

Philanthropist Reggie Van Lee presented a “March On Award” to Kathleen Tait and Lola C. West, who accepted it on behalf of the Donors of Color Network.
This year’s gala featured performances by the Shiloh Baptist Church Gospel Choir.
Filmmaker Sam Pollard was honored with a “March On Award,” which was presented to him by producer Judy Richardson.

The festivities began last Thursday night with a grand gala inside the Union Marks outdoor Dock 5 facility. Rep. James E. Clyburn, Majority Whip and the third-ranked Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, was honored with the John Robert Lewis Lifetime Legacy Award in 2021 while the award-winning filmmaker Sam Pollard and Donors of Color Network were also presented with their own “March On Awards”.

Dr. Sharon Malone and the festival’s founder Robert Raben present investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones with the Vivian Malone Courage Award.
Urban jazz harmonica player Frédéric Yonnet delights the guests with his performance.
Festival director David Andrusia and artistic director Isisara Bey.

Several members of Congress as well as dozens of educators, journalists, students and business leaders showed up.

2021 gala presidents Joyce Brayboy, Goldman Sachs CEO and Bruce Harris, VP of Federal Government Affairs for Walmart.
Yvonne Payne, Congressman James Clyburn and Congressman Donald Payne.
Mark Schuermann, CEO of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, and Congressman Jimmy Panetta.

The inaugural festival was first founded in 2013 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of March in Washington for Jobs and Freedom and attracted more than a thousand attendees over two weeks at venues across the district. It has since grown into a year-round program of screenings, panels and webinars featuring a diverse group of filmmakers, political figures, thought leaders and activists. But the annual film festival is by far the biggest draw, with fans traveling to Washington from all over the world.

Pioneering Civil Rights Advocate Fred Gray and Claudette Colvin, a pioneer in the 1950s civil rights movement.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jonathan Capehart, who served as master of ceremonies at this year’s gala, Democratic strategist Karen Finney and Kate Damon.
Former Alabama Senator Doug Jones and his wife, Louise.

In 2021, the festival consisted of a hybrid series of both personal and livestreamed events, not only because of the pandemic, but also to cater to a growing international audience. Over the years, tens of thousands of participants from around the world have connected through its programming, and the organizers wanted to ensure that those who could not take the tour this year could still participate.

Eden CEO Jodie McLean, Yelberton Watkins (Chief of Staff to Rep. James Clyburn) and Splunk President Teresa Carlson.
Nikole Hannah-Jones, best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning work on the New York Times’ 1619 project, speaks with students from Howard University’s speech and debate team.
The inside of Union Market’s Dock 5 room was festively decorated for last week’s gala.

“The fight for civil rights remains vital,” concluded David Andrusia, CEO of the festival. “This year, we honored the movement’s icons, provided platforms for today’s storytellers – and helped promote tomorrow’s pioneers.”

Dan Swartz

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