At least once a week, during my commute to work, I hear the following conversation:
Tourist: Where are we going?
Local guide: We are going to the Mall.
Tourist: Why are we to a mall? I want to see the memorials.
Local guide: Yes, we are going to THE MALL - the giant park with the Smithsonian museums and all the monuments.
Tourist: Oh, huh. Why is it called the Mall then?
The National Mall is America’s Front Yard. You will not find Forever 21 or Old Navy out on the Mall. However, you will find impressive national memorials, world class museums and acre upon acre of beautiful parkland.
On September 26 and 27, the Trust for the National Mall, the non-profit organization charged with restoring, improving and preserving the Mall for future generations, will throw the first full-scale music festival ever to occur on the Mall to raise much needed funds to maintain this national treasure. HeadCount is excited to partner with Rock the Vote in registering voters at this historic event, the Landmark Music Festival for the National Mall.
For one weekend only, out amongst the memorials and museums, music fans will encounter the likes of The Strokes, Drake, The War on Drugs and TV on the Radio. However, the Mall has a long history of serving as a different kind of stage, one for social movements and demonstrations.
In 1913, Alice Paul organized the first national women’s suffrage parade calling for a constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote. While this was by no means the first call to action, it was the first call on a national scale and marched right through the heart of the nation’s capital. Seven years later, in 1920, the 19th Amendment was finally ratified and granted women the right to vote.
Later, in 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. This speech, one of the most oft quoted speeches of the 20th Century, culminated in his powerful vision of the future:
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
The Mall is also where many have come to pay tribute to the fallen. The Vietnam, Korean and WWII memorials are vivid reminders of those we lost to conflicts overseas. However, in the 1980s, the Mall hosted an event that memorialized those lost to an entirely different conflict, a deadly disease ravaging the population at home, AIDS.
During the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, the NAMES Project Foundation brought the first 1,920 panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and set it up on the Mall. More than 500,000 people visited the Quilt that weekend. The Quilt would go on to tour the next year and gained 6,000 more panels. Today there are more than 48,000 panels on the Quilt and it continues to grow.
Every week, the Mall is host to events of all shapes and sizes. It is a stage where Americans can come together and let their voice be heard. Landmark Festival is a historic event put together to raise much needed funds to keep this hallowed place in pristine condition for future generations. We look forward to seeing everyone at this very special event out in America’s Front Yard this weekend!