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Giving Voice

The Power of Words in African American Culture


Giving Voice presented 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 showcased 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 celebrated the community roots of African American oral expression. During performances, discussions, radio broadcasts, children's programming, and community celebrations, Festival visitors heard many compelling stories about the struggle of a people to create a voice and communicate a culture. For example, visitors experienced the role of radio in stimulating and disseminating Black expressive culture, and heard how storytellers, poets, and actors draw upon their experiences at home and in community spaces to create and present their art.

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