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)

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.”


Sixth-grader and gun-control activist Naomi Wadler, left, with Alfre Woodard at "The Long Conversation" on Friday. (Erin Schaff/Smithsonian)

Activist Mily Treviño-Sauceda, left, leads a cheer of "sí, se pueda" — the United Farm Workers' motto that means "yes, you can" — with poet Jacqueline Suskin. (Juan Torreblanca/Hargrove)

Audience members learn to lean on each other in a community-building exercise with activist and yoga teacher Hawah. (Erin Schaff/Smithsonian)

From left, opera star Larisa Martinez, performance poet Jacqueline Suskin, #TimesUp leader and United Farm Workers activist Mily Treviño-Sauceda and gene therapy pioneer Jean Bennett enjoy the event. (Erin Schaff/Smithsonian)

Malak Wazne, an 18-year-old documentary filmmaker, meets music manager Troy Carter. (Erin Schaff/Smithsonian)

Smithsonian Arts and Industries Director Rachel Goslins and Sasha Velour. (Erin Schaff/Smithsonian)