Finding the meaning of America’s democracy is a journey that each generation takes.

New Day at Federal Hall is inviting artists and historians, writers and activists to reflect on democracy. What are the achievements of the past, the possibilities for the future, the rights that have been deferred and the rights denied. What are the living ideals of a more perfect union and how do we get there?

Christopher Jackson

Letter to Thomas Jefferson from Benjamin Banneker (August 1791)

Actor Christopher Jackson (Hamilton) evokes the restrained passion of free black mathematician and scientist, Benjamin Banneker, in his reading of his now famous letter to Jefferson, in the Federal Hall Grand Rotunda.

Banneker challenged Jefferson and the framers of the Declaration of Independence on their hypocrisy regarding slavery, and the general perpetuation of prejudice against African Americans. He used Jefferson’s own words, “that all men are created equal,” to implore him and others to “wean yourselves from those narrow prejudices which you have imbibed with respect to” African Americans.

Use of this video was made possible by Christopher Jackson and Ham4Progress.

Wynton Marsalis

Jazz & Democracy

Wynton Marsalis kicked off our new series of Reflections on Democracy on September 30, 2020 with Democracy & Jazz.

In the hush of the empty Federal Hall Grand Rotunda, this Grammy-winning musician shared his thoughts on what democracy and jazz have in common. He capped his comments with an inspiring solo performance of Amazing Grace, which he called “America’s unofficial anthem”