Williams, who is from Virginia Beach, started the festival back in 2019, but he says moving the festival to our nation’s capitol has poetic meaning.
“We wanted to elevate the festival to the highest ground so what better place than the nation’s capital,” Williams said.
Williams said that this move has the goal of easing racial tensions, unifying communities and creating opportunities for local businesses.
Nexstar’s WAVY previously covered when the Williams pulled the show from Virginia Beach, citing the city’s “toxic energy.” His decision came after his cousin was killed by police — an act that was justified by officials who say Donovon Lynch had a weapon on him. Williams said it was too painful.
“But you know what? We gotta rise above it. It was a solution the first time. Our chief down there posed the question down there to try to find a solution and that’s where something in the water came from, but we didn’t want to stop there and so many people had so much fun that we decided to take it up a notch. Like let’s just find the highest ground possible in symbolism and in poetry and that ended up being our nation’s capital,” he said.
He was greeted by the Ballou High School band playing his song, “Happy,” as he joined Mayor Muriel Bowser for an official announcement. He brought the news that he was gifting all of the band students tickets to the festival.
The festival’s updated website updated on Tuesday with the dates and lineup, which features artists such as Lil Uzi Vert, Tyler, the Creator and Usher.
“If you’re celebrating music, if you’re celebrating Black excellence, if you’re drawing attention to the people who have dedicated their lives to knocking down barriers and uplifting our communities — then there is no better place to do that than in Washington, D.C.,” Mayor Bowser said in a statement.