News & Politics

PHOTOS: 2021 March On Washington Film Festival Gala

Politicians, activists, journalists, and business leaders kicked off the film festival at Union Market's Dock 5.

Rep. Lauren Underwood presented House Majority Whip James Clyburn with the March on Washington Film Festival's John Robert Lewis Lifetime Legacy Award at this year's gala.
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Running until October 11, the March on Washington Film Festival kicked off last week with the largest opening night gala in its history. The festival’s goal is to “tell, celebrate, and increase awareness of the untold events and icons and foot soldiers, known and unsung, of the Civil Rights Movement.”

Union Market’s open-air Dock 5 space hosted the majority of this year’s in-person 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 our nation’s history are everywhere—hidden in plain sight,” said the festival’s founder Robert Raben. “The March on 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 evening with a grand awards gala inside Union Market’s open-air Dock 5 facility. Rep. James E. Clyburn, Majority Whip and the third-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, was honored with the 2021 John Robert Lewis Lifetime Legacy Award while award-winning filmmaker Sam Pollard and the Donors of Color Network were also presented with their own “March On Awards”.

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

Several members of Congress as well as dozens of educators, journalists, students, and business executives turned out.

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

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

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

For 2021, the festival consisted of a hybrid series of both in-person and live-streamed events due not just to the pandemic, but also to accommodate a growing international audience.  Over the years, tens of thousands of attendees from around the world have connected via its programming and organizers wanted to ensure that those who couldn’t make the trip this year were still able to participate.

Edens 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 space was festively decorated for last week’s gala.

“The fight for civil rights remains vital,” concluded David Andrusia, executive director of the festival. “This year we honored the Movement’s icons, provided platforms for the storytellers of today—and helped advance the trailblazers of tomorrow.”