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Congress is commemorating the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

The summer of 1969...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NINA SIMONE: Are you ready to groove?

PFEIFFER: ...Was the summer of soul.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SIMONE: Are you ready to listen to all the beautiful Black voices, the beautiful Black feeling, the beautiful Black waves moving in beautiful air?

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Nina Simone and a huge roster of musical legends performed that year at the Harlem Cultural Festival. Gladys Knight was there, too...

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GLADYS KNIGHT: (Singing) You know that I heard it through the grapevine. Oh, I heard it through the grapevine not much longer would you be mine.

CHANG: ...And Stevie Wonder...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

STEVIE WONDER: (Singing) It's your thing. Do what you want to do. Don't let me tell you...

CHANG: ...And the unforgettable Sly and the Family Stone.

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SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE: (Singing) I am everyday people, yeah, yeah.

PFEIFFER: More than 50 years later, Congress has taken note of the festival's lasting legacy. This week, the Senate unanimously approved a resolution honoring it. And now the last weekend of June 2022 will commemorate the first weekend of the Harlem Cultural Festival.

CHANG: The festival took place over the course of six Sundays and has been widely regarded as a pivotal moment for Black music, culture and identity.

PFEIFFER: The resolution credits the 2021 documentary "Summer Of Soul" with rescuing and resuscitating the memory of the music festival for a global audience.

CHANG: Ahmir Thompson, widely known as Questlove, directed that documentary, which has since won an Oscar and a Grammy. He spoke to us in March about the significance of the festival and the importance of showing it to a wider audience.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

AHMIR THOMPSON: Oftentimes, when we talk about civil rights, you only see our pain. You see the bloodshed. You see the dogs attacking us. You see us hosed down. You see us getting shot and in jail, mired in violence. But Black joy is such an important component to our story. And without that, we're not seen as human.

PFEIFFER: The Harlem Cultural Festival has now inspired a new event - next year's Harlem Festival of Culture. Organizers plan to hold the event in the same park as the original festival.

(SOUNDBITE OF HERBIE MANN'S "HOLD ON, I'M COMIN'") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.