The National Mall attracted more than just the typical tourist crowd Saturday as thousands attended the fourth annual Global Citizen Festival near the Washington Monument.
Part-music festival and part-environmental rally, the free event, hosted by Will.i.am and journalist Soledad O’Brien, featured celebrities and politicians promoting initiatives to end poverty by the year 2030 and reduce climate change.
In spite of the 80-degree heat, headliners like Mary J. Blige, Train and Fall Out Boy kept the audience on its feet with electrifying performances throughout the six-hour show, which also commemorates the upcoming 45th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22.
In between musical performances, activists and world leaders took to the stage urging spectators to support various causes by pressuring elected officials, donating money and signing petitions. They touched on topics like clean drinking water and sustainable living. Celebrities who delivered speeches included actors Don Cheadle, Freida Pinto and Bonnie Wright.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde appeared after their policy meetings to thank the crowd for its efforts.
“This morning, 188 ministers of finance and governors of central banks were at the IMF, and they heard a big noise and it was you,” Lagarde said, “Because they heard you and because they will continue to hear you, they are committed to the cause of ending poverty and financing development.”
Although he was recovering from a broken foot, headliner Usher still performed his signature dance moves to pop hits like “OMG” and “Yeah.” His set also featured performances from rapper Common and EDM artist Martin Garrix.
“One foot don’t stop no show,” he said. “I wouldn’t miss this for anything in the world. This is all about love, hope, togetherness, peace.”
Limping on a golden crutch in between songs, he reminded the audience to work together while trying to end poverty, before delivering soulful covers of The Beatles’ “Come Together” and U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”
The final act of the evening was No Doubt, re-energizing the crowd with its upbeat reggae-infused tracks like “Just a Girl,” “Hey Baby,” and “Sunday Morning,” during which lead singer Gwen Stefani leapt into the crowd to greet screaming fans.