Saturday, February 08, 2014

A List of Events for Black History Month: The NYC Version

"Pride of race is the antidote to prejudice." -- Arthur Schomburg

I don't have to wait for February to get lifted.  I'm aware of what's out there for me, whether the government/society/the powers that be says its my designated time of the year or not.  For some (black) folk, this is the only real moment in their (school) year/lives when African-American accomplishments of any kind are ever mentioned.  If they'd teach history without deliberately omitting us, we probably wouldn't need black history classes.

The documentary More Than A Month has an interesting premise -- Do we really need Black History Month anymore? -- but unfortunately it brings up more questions than it answers.  I suppose the director has a point.  Then again, there's got to be a way to take bigots to the woodshed on a regular basis. 

For those of you in the tri-state area, this is just a small fun-filled slice of what's available within Gotham's five boroughs.  Please note: Many of these exhibits extend into the summer months and are free and open to the public.
  1. Louis Armstrong House's latest exhibit -- Senor Satchmo: Louis Armstrong in South America --  looks fascinating. AND you get a collectible, as supplies will allow.
  2. Black Artstory Month -- This month-long celebration makes Brooklyn's Myrtle Avenue its main street and includes an array of activities including spoken word, live music, lectures, food and an eclectic discussion about the African diaspora's influence on fashion. 
  3. Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture -- This delves into the shift away from Hollywood stereotypes that happened with black characters in cartoons in the 70s.
  4. The Apollo Theater Open House Weekend: An 80th Anniversary Celebration. If you miss the family-friendly fun on Saturday, February 8th, don't miss a performance by the Rev. Shirley Caesar on Sunday, February 9th. And yes, it's free.
  5. Black Dress: Ten Contemporary Fashion Designers at Pratt Manhattan Gallery focuses on the business of design, features two of my faves (Byron Lars and Tracey Reese) and includes a short video made especially for the exhibit by 2013 MacArthur Fellow Carrie Mae Weems
  6. Go see The Loving Story (A Valentine's Day special!) at Harlem's Mayles Cinema
  7. ...and then return for Blacks in Experimental Film (Part 2)
  8. Central Park Tour: Seneca Village -- Seneca Village (which eventually became a part of Central Park) was the city's first known community of African-American property owners.
  9. Motown: The Truth Is A Hit at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture -- This is a music history lesson about the Motown sound and its origins, with beautiful visuals.
  10. Where this list ends is where you should start, really -- The NYC Five Borough Tour.  You'll hit nine sites on this self-guided tour, including Woodlawn Conservancy, the organization that's dedicated to maintaining and caring for Woodlawn Cemetery (the Valley of the Jazz Greats is a must) and the African Burial Ground National Monument.

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