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Roadwork 40th Anniversary Concert

The Movement That Put Women’s Culture on the Road

July 7–8, 2018

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival joins Roadwork in celebrating its fortieth anniversary as a D.C.-based multiracial coalition that puts women artists on the road globally. The 2018 Festival will close with two evening concerts featuring Roadwork performers and millennial women artists whose sounds lead us into the future. Our daytime stage offerings include poetry, spoken word, and activist reflections on women’s cultures past and future.  

Founded in 1978 by women leaders from African American civil rights, women’s, global justice, and lesbian-feminist movements, Roadwork aims at transforming consciousness and creating new movements in global arts and social justice. The organization produced concerts, festivals, tours, and rallies that inspired tens of thousands of people to work for social change. It built coalitions across race, gender, sexual orientation, and economic class—the foundations of intersectional activism today.

Today Roadwork artists shine on international stages, in college classrooms, and major cultural institutions promoting social justice, and collaborating with new generations of visionary activists.

Video: Roadwork Documentary Project Teaser

Sisterfire at the 2018 Folklife Festival is a part of the Roadwork Oral History and Documentary Project. All concerts and narrative sessions will be recorded for a feature-length documentary and an online oral history archive featuring dozens of artists, activist, technicians, producers, and audience members who built the coalition.

  • Photo courtesy of the artist

  • Photo by Jefry Andres Wright

    Tattiana Aqeel
  • Photo courtesy of the artist

    Ysaye Maria Barnwell
  • Photo courtesy of the artist

    Be Steadwell
  • Photos courtesy of the artists

    Alexis DeVeaux
  • Photos courtesy of the artists

    Alexis P. Gumbs
  • Photo by Jeff Richardson

    Ariel Horowitz
  • Photo by Drew Xeron

    Carolyn Malachi
  • Photo by Laquann Dawson

    Roya Marsh
  • Photo by Irene Young

    Holly Near
  • Photos courtesy of the artists

    Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely
  • Photo by Fabrice Trombert

    Martha Redbone
  • Photo by Rick McCollough

    Urban Bush Women
  • Photos courtesy of the artists

    Venus Thrash


  • July 7, 6–7 p.m.

    Roadwork D.C. Showcase
    The Kennedy Center, Millennium Stage
  • July 8, daytime sessions

    Roadwork: Words That Built a Movement
    Folklife Festival, narrative stage
  • July 8, 6–8 p.m.

    Sisterfire: Roadwork 40th Anniversary Concert
    Folklife Festival, Ralph Rinzler Concert Stage

Support the Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, sustainability projects, educational outreach, and more.