The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Smithsonian brings together big thinkers — from Alfre Woodard to Sasha Velour — for a ‘long conversation’

Sasha Velour puts on a surprise drag performance of the 1960s soul staple "Stay With Me" underneath duo McCormack and Figg's light sculpture, which was created for the Smithsonian's "Long Conversation." (Erin Schaff/Smithsonian) (Smithsonian for the Washington Post)

The Smithsonian was not kidding around when it dubbed its Friday event “The Long Conversation.” Over the course of eight hours, more than 1,200 people flowed through the institution’s Arts and Industries building to chat about their hopes for the future with big thinkers such as Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, drag queen Sasha Velour, “The Daily Show’s” Roy Wood Jr. and actress Alfre Woodard. Upon meeting sixth-grader and gun-control activist Naomi Wadler, whom the world first saw onstage at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, Woodard had an “aha” moment. “I have things that make me optimistic about the future,” Woodard said, “but right now, it’s because I’m seeing and hearing you.”