About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for The Apollo

McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
June 25, 2019 

Good evening, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased you could join us for tonight’s special preview screening of HBO’s The Apollo. The film is presented in partnership with the 2019 March on Washington Film Festival, which is now in its seventh year.

Following the screening, Jamal Simmons will lead a discussion with Kamilah Forbes, Lisa Cortes, and Billy Mitchell.

Before we start the film, I’d like to let you know about two other programs coming up next week in this theater.

On Monday, July 1st at noon, author Martha Saxton discusses her new book, The Widow Washington: The Life of Mary Washington, a biography of the mother of our first President, George Washington. A book signing follows the program.

And on Tuesday, July 2nd at noon, Lester Gorelic will present an illustrated lecture on “The Faulkner Murals: Revealing Their Stories,” in which he will describe artist Barry Faulkner’s creation of and composition of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution murals in the Rotunda of this building.

Check our website, Archives.gov, or sign up at the table outside the theater to get email updates. You’ll also find information about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Check out their website—archivesfoundation.org—to learn more about them and join online.

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The Apollo Theater has long been a Harlem landmark for the performing arts. Almost 40 years ago, the theater received official recognition as a New York City Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Within the records of the National Park Service in the National Archives is the 1983 nomination of the Apollo Theater for inclusion in the National Register.

The section of the document indicating “Significance” reads, “The Apollo is unparalleled in shaping both the careers of major black performers and a variety of forms of American entertainment. Nearly every black American performer has played the Apollo, from blues singer Bessie Smith in the 1930s, to jazz great Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington, to Dinah Washington, Sam Cooke, and the Supremes, through soul singer Aretha Franklin and James Brown in the 1970s. It is no wonder that the Apollo, aside from having had an extraordinary impact on our culture, has become synonymous with Harlem itself.”

  The Apollo justifiably won a place on the National Register of Historic Places in November 1983.

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And now it’s my pleasure to turn the program over to Isisara Bey, Artistic Director of the March on Washington Film Festival. Prior to joining the Festival, she served as Vice President of Programs for Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, and for 20 years was Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Sony Music.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Isisara Bey.