A cloud of uncertainty and despair crept over Washington, D.C. on the eve of the 45th Presidential Inauguration, but thankfully progressive restaurant chain Busboys and Poets brought some much-needed light with a glitzy event full of hope and peace. Celebrities, activists and anyone not celebrating the inauguration of He Who Shall Not Be Named joined together to get glam and attend Busboys and Poets' inaugural ball, Peace Ball: Voices of Hope and Resistance. The event highlighted the accomplishments of the past four years and gave us the inspiration we were looking for to help us move forward (and survive) in the next four.
The event was a beautiful nod to minorities. Held at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, guests sipped on drinks against the bronzed walls, snapped photos near the reflection pool and networked with people of all colors and ethnicities amidst key moments in African American history. Speakers and distinguished guests such as Angela Davis, Alice Walker, Cory Booker, Danny Glover, Van Jones, Melissa Harris-Perry and more walked around the event mingling with guests and discussing their thoughts on what this presidency means for the next four years and generations to come.
You can't truly celebrate the night before an unqualified joker takes over the country without music, of course, so the Peace Ball was sure to supply a DJ, renowned spoken word poets, dancers and musicians. Guests were eager to see headliners Esperanza Spalding and Solange, however. Esperanza took the stage first, accompanied by Howard University's a cappella group Afro Blue. The dynamic artist opened with her single "Pyramid" by beating on her double bass. Afro Blue followed along with artsy choreography and beautiful harmonies. After the realization that Ms. Spalding, who inspired us to "Funk The Fear," was only performing one song, the audience channeled their energy into willing Solange on the stage. Before that happened, feverish drum beats could be heard and African dancers appeared in the middle of the tight crowd, entertaining the impatient yet surprised audience. After the dancers performed, Chicago style steppers started dancing, adding additional layers of black joy to the event.
Finally, commentator Van Jones had a fan-boy moment as he introduced Angela Davis, who then introduced Solange. "Now you are about to witness a performance by one who will help us to produce the anthems of our resistance," she proclaimed. The stage lights dimmed to a beautiful red and orange hue and Solange's tribe, all decked in white, graced the stage ready to perform. Equipped with one of the blackest albums of 2016, Solange performed a few cuts from A Seat at the Table. Her colorful, 30-minute set included "Weary," "Cranes in the Sky" and "Don’t Touch My Hair." As the audience sang "What you say to me!" in tandem, during the chorus with hands raised and heads nodding to the beat, it was a beautiful picture of peace and freedom. While Solange didn't acknowledge anything political, she was grateful that the audience enjoyed her third live performance of music from the new album.
Though hours later we were subjected to a Friday of mourning, we could only be happy that we experienced peace on Thursday night.