Frisco’s Project Level young people are strapping up for a college tour

by Minister of Information JR Valrey

Project Level is a phenomenal arts and
entrepreneurship program for teens and young adults in San Francisco. It is
headquartered at the African American Art and Culture Complex at 762 Fulton in
the Fillmore district, and it was founded in 2012, by Richard “Big Rich”
Bougere and Danielle Barr. It is a vital resource for young people and Frisco’s
youth culture, and they always have some things happening. This year they are
planning a college tour where they will be visiting Howard University, among
other colleges on the East Coast. I sat down with Project Level co-founder Big
Rich to see what they were up to.

M.O.I. JR: What is Project Level? And how did
it start?

Big
Rich: Project Level is a non-profit youth organization that serves underserved
communities by teaching them how to create opportunities for themselves by
utilizing the arts and their own creative talents. Not only do we nurture and
support their craft but we also prepare them for the industry they wish to have
a career in. We are able to do this by equipping them with industry standard
equipment and exposing them to real life opportunities that correlate to their
passions.

M.O.I. JR: How and when did you get involved
with Project Level?

Big Rich: Danielle and myself founded Project
Level in 2012. I was blessed and lucky enough to have had a career in the music
industry that allowed me to establish a lasting legacy worldwide and especially
here in the Bay Area. During my time as an artist, I was able to create a lot
of significant relationships. My intentions were to retire and utilize the
relationships and resources I had made to help other artists operating as an
executive and CEO.

Danielle and I soon realized after trying our
hand in management that there were many obstacles for adult artists and that we
couldn’t help them the way we genuinely wanted to, so we went back to the
drawing board. We really wanted to give back to the community that gave so much
to us, so we decided that the best way to do that was to give everything we
have and pour it into the youth. We wanted to get to them as early as possible
to establish a foundation they could stand on for life.

M.O.I. JR: Since you and Danielle have been
running it, what have y’all been up to?

Big
Rich: We hit the ground running in 2012 and haven’t looked back since. We’ve
served over 1,000 youths since our inception and a majority of our staff is
made up of alumni – former students.

This
past summer we employed over 75 youth through Mayor London Breed’s initiative
Opportunities for All and created a hard copy (and digital version) original
magazine called “Anthem.” We’ve also had over five highly successful college
and career tours.

During
this time Danielle and I have been able to build and focus all of our resources
towards helping and empowering the youth. We continue to build relationships
with entities such as Airbnb, Poshmark, JYC, Parks and Rec, and many others to
open more doors for our students.

This past summer we employed over 75 youth through Mayor London Breed’s initiative Opportunities for All and created a hard copy (and digital version) original magazine called “Anthem.” We’ve also had over five highly successful college and career tours.

M.O.I. JR: What happened with Project Level
and Forever 21 last year? How did y’all work it out?

Big
Rich: Last year we had an unfortunate incident at Forever 21 where my wife
Danielle had been accused of stealing. It happened during the time when we
employed the 75 youth through OFA. I mentioned earlier that we were creating a
magazine and for this magazine we were doing a photo shoot for about 10 of our
students who were to be featured in the magazine.

So
the day before the shoot, we did what we had always done – and went shopping.
We did our normal runs through the Westfield Mall, and headed over to Forever
21 to finish up shopping. To make a long story short, the police were called
because the manager suspected us of stealing, specifically Danielle. The cops
approached Danielle and asked to search our bags. Of course we allowed them to search
all of our bags, because we’ve never been thieves or had any reason to steal.

The
officers cleared us of any wrongdoing and notified us that one of the staff
members had “seen” Danielle putting clothes in her bags that came from the
other stores. We explained to them that we had been comparing clothing items to
make sure everything matched. Once again, we’ve shopped at F21 many times
before, and as a collective we have spent thousands of dollars there.

We
take pride in our reputation, and even after being embarrassed publicly, we
still understood how someone could mistake Danielle taking clothes in and out
of the bag to compare them for stealing. All we wanted was for them to make
amends by simply apologizing.

The
manager on duty who called the police refused to even meet us face to face, let
alone apologize. We felt insulted and knew that we couldn’t stand for this type
of treatment. Danielle and I recorded the tail end of this ordeal and shared it
on our socials. We didn’t do it as a call of action because we intended to have
our lawyers handle it, but the public and our communities completely got behind
us and the posts went viral.

The
story got picked up by multiple news outlets and made it to the paper. After
receiving so much attention, Forever 21’s top brass reached out wanting to find
a resolution. With that, we met with their execs at City Hall and came to a
solution.

We
would join forces to create and release a full-blown capsule and that all
proceeds were to be donated to Project Level. We were given full control of
designing the clothes, marketing and the entire roll out. Not only that, but we
are to contribute to rewriting their training and policy on their racial
sensitivity training. We are glad to have taken a negative and turned it into a
positive that we were able to share with the community.

M.O.I. JR: As a provider of youth services,
why are programs like Project Level vital for the development of constructive
young people in the Bay Area?

Big Rich: They’re vital because of the simple
fact that the saying “it takes a village” has shown time and time again to be
absolutely true. At Project Level we provide those things that all kids need
and want whether they know it or not. Those things being family (support) and
opportunities (resources). With those then they are able to open and trust the
guidance you provide. Without that trust you can’t help develop these young
people.

M.O.I. JR: What are some of the projects that
Project Level is working on now?

Big Rich: As I mentioned earlier, we are all-hands-on-deck
with this Forever 21 collaboration still, but we do have artists that have
music projects that are due to be released. We also have students who plan on
releasing capsules for their own individual clothing brands. The film department
is working on a few short stories and documentaries. We have many other
projects that are in the wraps that we’ll be revealing soon, so stay tuned.

M.O.I. JR: Can you talk a little bit about the
Project Level College Tour that y’all are raising money for? What made y’all
pick the colleges you picked?

Big
Rich: So here at Project Level we like to be innovative in everything we do, so
from the beginning we decided that we weren’t going to do your traditional
college tour. We decided to do a college and career tour.

We
did our first one in 2013, and have done one every year since. We made sure to
put an emphasis on the career side because we know a majority of our entire
student population wanted a career utilizing their artistic gifts, so we made
sure we exposed them to the industry. This year we decided to go to the East
Coast and visit some historically Black colleges such as Howard. We chose our
colleges based on the arts and their history.

M.O.I. JR: What do you want the youth to get
out of the college tour?

Big
Rich: We want these kids coming away from the college tour knowing that they
have not only the ability but also the support to attend any school they visit.
We also want for them to be inspired by the professionals who have careers in
the industry they wish to thrive in. We want them to feel as if their futures
are in their hands.

M.O.I. JR: How could people donate? How could
people get in touch with you?

Big
Rich: If anyone out there wishes to donate, they can do so by following the
Project Level Page on Instagram, which is @ProjectLevel and clicking the link
in the bio. We also have a Project Level Venmo, which is @Project-level. I
myself can be reached by direct message via Instagram @Big.Rich and
@Industrymomma.

The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey, journalist, author and
filmmaker, can be reached at
blockreportradio@gmail.com or on Facebook. And tune in to BlockReportTV on YouTube.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Bites: Black Vines celebrates California’s black vintners; Calabash; Tacos Super Monilla

Black Vines founder Fern Stroud. Black Vines founder Fern Stroud.
Black Vines founder Fern Stroud. Photo: Black Vines

A TOAST TO DIVERSITY Black Vines founder Fern Stroud says her “life work is to bridge the gap between business, art and community,” and she’s been doing that for the last nine years with Black Vines, an annual festival she created to celebrate California’s black winemakers and vintners, artists and musicians. Stroud started the event in 2011 as a way to drive awareness and create publicity and demand for black wine professionals in a field dominated by mostly white and male winemakers, but Black Vines has also proven to be a fun gathering where like-minded individuals can connect over some great bottles of California wine. For the past eight years, Black Vines has taken place at various venues in Oakland; this year, on Sunday, it’ll make its first foray in Berkeley at Ciel Creative Space, where Mayor Jesse Arreguín will present Stroud with an official proclamation stating that Feb. 29, 2020 is Black Vines Day in the city.

Black Vines will feature tastings from Free Range Flower Winery (Oakland), Wachira Wines (Alameda), McBride Sisters (San Luis Obispo), Indigené Cellars (Paso Robles), Theopolis Vineyards (Yorkville), among many others. In addition, there’ll be hors d’oeuvres from L.A.-based Shef’s Catering, winemaker talks, and displays and performances by black artists and musicians. Proceeds from this year’s Black Vines will go to BlackFemaleProject.org, a non-profit that supports and amplifies the work of professional black women. 1-5 p.m. Admission is $70 and includes a keepsake glass; pre-registration is required. Venue information will be shared with registered guests.  

ALL STAR (CALA)BASH A new restaurant and marketplace is coming to Oakland that hopes to bring awareness and representation for three Bay Area chefs of color and the cuisines from their respective cultures. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Nigel Jones, the chef-owner behind Caribbean restaurants Kingston 11 in Oakland and Kaya in San Francisco, will be joined by Malaysian chef Azalina Eusope (of Azalina’s in San Francisco) and Iranian chef Hanif Sadr (of Komaaj, a Berkeley-based catering company that has had a standing pop-up at Cafenated in North Berkeley) to open Calabash.

Calabash will be located on the ground floor of the Alta Waverly housing development on Valdez and 23rd streets in Oakland. Diners at the restaurant will order off a single menu featuring Afro-Caribbean fare from Jones, Malaysian dishes from Eusope and Persian plates from Sadr, while the shoppers at the marketplace will purchase prepared foods from each chef to enjoy at home. An opening date has yet to be announced, but Jones and crew aim for Calabash to go live by September.

Tacos Super Monilla, a taco truck in Alameda.Tacos Super Monilla, a taco truck in Alameda.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane… it’s a new taco truck in Alameda! Photo: Tacos Super Monilla

MAKE IT SUPER Alameda’s got a new taco truck (with a superhero fisting a burrito emblazoned on it) that’s getting lots of love for its Mexico City-style eats. Eater reports that Tacos Super Monilla is the island’s first regular, non-pop-up taco truck. Run by husband-wife owners Ramon and Silvia Torres, Super Monilla specializes in regional street foods, like campechano (a taco that combines more than one type of meat, in this case, brisket and chorizo) and quesabirria (the au courant cheesy, crunchy dipped shredded beef tacos). Hours are noon to 10:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday; 5:30-10:30 p.m., Monday. Tacos Super Monilla, 800 West Tower Ave. (near Ferry Point), Alameda

STILL A FEW SANDWICHES SHORT Fans of Kensington farmers market hawkers Picnic will be glad to hear the rotisserie, charcuterie and sausage business run by Albany locals Susannah Schnick and Leslie Nishiyama is just a few months shy of opening its first brick-and-mortar deli. When it opens, Picnic will offer take-out charcuterie (including their Good Food Award-winning chicken liver mousse), rotisserie chicken, sandwiches, salads and more, but locals will have to wait just a little longer. The space in the former Four Corners Café in Albany required a full build out, a process the two owners say they learned a lot from. Although construction has been going fairly smoothly, they still have a list of items to buy, and last permits and licenses to get squared away. To help them get to the finish line in time, Schnick and Nishiyama are crowdfunding on Kickstarter to raise $25,000 that will be used to buy equipment and supplies, and create an outdoor seating area. Picnic will be at at 862 San Pablo Ave., (at Solano), Albany

The former The Bird restaurant space is still vacant. The former The Bird restaurant space is still vacant.
The former The Bird restaurant space is still vacant and is once again on the market. Photo: Sarah Han

FAMILY TIES ENDED? In July, Nosh reported that Family Style, Inc. — the L.A.-based company that operates ghost kitchens for delivery-only pizza restaurants like DJ Steve Aoki’s Pizzaioki — would be taking over the corner restaurant at 2400 Telegraph Ave., a space last occupied by The Bird. At the time, Family Style’s regional manager Demetrius Rienzo told Nosh the business was still figuring out what brands they’d be offering from the location, as the company had just started adding new types of cuisines to their pizza-only line-up. More than six months later, the space is still closed and the restaurant is on the market yet again. We reached out to Rienzo for comment on why Family Style decided to pass on the Southside Berkeley space, but have not yet heard a response at time of publication.

MAI BANH MI, INTERRUPTED Reader Sean Rouse sent up a tip that North Oakland Vietnamese sandwich shop, Mai Banh Mi at 6601 Telegraph Ave., is temporarily closed for remodeling. A sign on the door and the business’ voicemail say the restaurant will reopen soon, but a date has yet to be shared.

CHEF STORIES Slow Food East Bay’s Cultural Food Traditions Project, a series celebrating immigrant and POC chefs and their food traditions, is nearing its end. Sunday’s dinner focused on cuisine from Bhutan and Myanmar, will be the last event before a final closing ceremony for the series in March. The event takes place from 5-8 p.m., and will include a dinner beautifully prepared by Burmese chef Pa Wah and Bhutanese chef Som Lacchi Rai featuring mohinga (Burmese fish noodle soup), tea leaf salad, mushroom curry soup, rice, dal and pickles. As with all of Slow Food East Bay’s Cultural Food Traditions dinners, the event also includes a talk by the chefs. In this case, both Wah and Rai were refugees who were forced to leave their home countries; they will share their personal stories about their experiences. Tickets are $45-$85; proceeds will be split with the event’s partner organization, Oakland Bloom. COLORS Restaurant at Restore Oakland, 1419 34th Ave. (at International Boulevard), Oakland

Fieldwork's Koalaty Time Westcoast Double IPA. Fieldwork's Koalaty Time Westcoast Double IPA.
Fieldwork’s Koalaty Time Double IPA. Photo: Fieldwork Brewing Co.

HELP FOR FRIENDS DOWN UNDER Berkeley’s Fieldwork Brewing Company recently announced it’s pledged $50,000 to the American Australian Association, a group helping support people and wildlife affected by the fires in Australia. In addition, Fieldwork also released a special beer this month to bring attention to the cause. Koalaty Time Double IPA is brewed with Australian hops Enigma, Galaxy and Vic Secret, and is available on draft and in 16 oz. cans at all Fieldwork Brewing locations. Fieldwork co-founder Barry Braden explains the reason for their involvement in a cause that’s so far from home: “Living in a region that’s also experienced its own devastation due to wildfires, it’s our duty to bring awareness for the need to help our Australian friends who have undergone catastrophic fires in recent months. Our donation is a small part in the efforts to support the communities affected by the Australian wildfires.” Fieldwork Brewing Co., 1160 Sixth St. (at Harrison Street), Berkeley

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Fa’al Ali’s ILA Gallery the Newest Denver Hip-Hop Hub

Fa’al Ali, the owner of the soon-to-open street-art hub ILA Gallery, isn’t trying to be Denver’s next best curator. He’s a single father; an entrepreneur who started Eazy Media; a former owner of a co-working spot in Five Points; and a land prospector looking to grow hemp or hops in southern Colorado. But when he bought ILA Gallery, on the south end of the Art District on Santa Fe, his mission was clear: to provide a platform “for all my homies,” he says.

Those homies are movers and shakers of Denver’s thriving hip-hop scene — mostly graffiti and street artists, but also DJs, poets, chefs and other entrepreneurs.

Ali originally came to Denver for the snowboarding but stayed when he started hanging out with this crew of artists. When he was younger, his friends called him a “toy” — a term for someone who vandalizes with unskilled tags, a wannabe graffiti artist. His first connection to the scene was with Jolt, a notorious street artist who heads up the Guerilla Garden crew in Denver. The two immediately hit it off, forming a friendship that helped Ali find acceptance within the often territorial street-art scene.

An entrepreneur to his core, Ali put his passion for videography to use for the artists he was starting to hang out with. He replaced the spray paint and markers of his youth with cameras and editing software, creating everything from full-length documentaries for the Urban Arts Fund to recap videos for the street-art festival Crush Walls to small clips for personal social-media accounts.

ILA Gallery

ILA Gallery

Eazy Media

As the years went by, Ali started talking to his friends more about their needs as artists. “’We need to get paid’ — that’s what they were saying,” says Ali. “And so that became my goal this year: Get the homies paid.”

With that, ILA (pronounced “eela”) Gallery was born. The name is Ali’s last name backward, but it also stands for “I Love Art” and “I Live Authentic.”

“Mostly, it’s about authenticity,” explains Ali. “I would go to art shows all the time, and I would see my culture for sale, but I wouldn’t see us represented in the room. I felt that kinda made it corny or lack authenticity. … I want people of my culture — black people, brown people, anybody who gets a passport to the culture — to come and have a place that represents that. And I want them to make money off of it.”

Even though Ali just signed a four-year lease for the small gallery on January 6, the schedule of monthly exhibitions already stretches into April 2021. The main curator behind that jam-packed timeline is Lorenzo Talcott, a local arts advocate known for organizing shows at Dateline Gallery in the RiNo Art District.

Ali and Talcott have designed the space for fast turnovers between exhibitions. Following most of the rules of a white-cube gallery, it’s a no-nonsense space. But the dreams Ali and Talcott have for exhibitions will make it different from other contemporary art spaces in town.

ILA Gallery

ILA Gallery

Eazy Media

“I’m trying to empower my community. Being a black minority in Denver, I just want to empower everybody that I can but keep where I come from in the forefront of my mind and my business,” says Ali. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to teach people to appreciate art and use art as an investment and as assets. That’s what people with money do, and so we’re focusing on educating our community about that side of art.”

The first exhibition at ILA is all about black identity. “Fa’al wanted a black artist for Black History Month, to represent,” Talcott explains. So the curator invited Hiero Veiga — a Massachusetts-born, Miami-based artist who started his career painting graffiti in alleys — for a two-week solo show, from February 22 to March 6.

ILA Gallery

ILA Gallery

Eazy Media

Called “Uppity” Live in Color, the exhibit includes pieces that represent different people of color who have pushed the boundaries of their genres. Veiga’s skill with portraiture — although displayed worldwide on enormous buildings — transfers to smaller canvases beautifully. And “Uppity” Live in Color will allow fans of Veiga’s murals to buy something of his to take home.

“I want to have a place that’s safe for graffiti or street artists, but a lot of these guys are transitioning when they aren’t painting the streets,” Ali says. “But they get looped into that genre where it’s only graffiti, when they are so much more and have different ways of expressing themselves.”

The gallery’s schedule, which hasn’t been fully announced, will include works by regional artists including Casey Kawaguchi and New Mexico-based artist Jodie Herrera. The space will host other events, from a daytime party celebrating art, music and food to kid-friendly family gatherings and an event where artists give back to the community.

“Hopefully, we can put some art in people’s homes and put some money in people’s pockets and keep the vibe and authenticity of the culture and the scene and keep a stakehold in it before it gets completely taken away from us,” says Ali.

ILA Gallery, at 209 Kalamath Street, Unit 12, will be open from 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays starting March 6. RSVP to this Eventbrite page for a sneak peek of work by Hiero Veiga from 5 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, February 22.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Joyce Scott: ACC Consummate Craftsman

By Jannette J. Witmyer
Special to the AFRO

“Validation” is the word that artist Joyce J. Scott says first comes to mind when asked how it feels to be recognized as the 2020 recipient of the American Craft Council Gold Medal for Consummate Craftsmanship, but she quickly discards that explanation as “just a word that pops up that people use in regard to things like this…”  

Then, after a moment’s reflection, she says with a laugh, “I think it’s more of a big old sloppy kiss and a hug from those that I’ve worked with and from those who see that what I’ve done came straight from my heart and was a culmination of all of those people who supported little Joyce all the way up to incredibly large Joyce.”

Artist Joyce J. Scott (Photo Courtesy of Joyce J. Scott)

Although she responds with humor, Scott is dead serious about the importance of the award, her work, and their realized and potential impact. Every two years, the American Craft Council recognizes a Fellow of the Council with the ACC Gold Medal for Consummate Craftsmanship, an award for a lifetime of achievements. After being nominated by the College of Fellows, the recipient is ultimately selected by the American Craft Council board of trustees. She knows that this award comes as recognition from her peers.

“For me to get this big hug from my colleagues… They watched me continually work, and they celebrate that part of my life with me because this is a celebration. It’s not only an honor being bestowed upon me, but it’s a celebration of craft and of those who make craft with me.”

Scott considers herself a craftsman and an artist, equally. She is clear in her valuation when speaking of the fields of crafts and art. “Some people don’t understand how profoundly necessary it is to be a good craftsman as well as a good artist. I consider them to be of equal worth,” she says and then explains, “I spring from a well, from a fount of African-American artists who were craft people, who were folks that not only made art because they understood the aesthetics of it but because of how functional it was. I’m proud of that.”

A large part of her appreciation for the award stems from her appreciation of the ACC’s role as an organization that helps to service and promote the art of craft. “It is important because not only do craftsmen want to learn, be together, and have their work shown, but it’s important because it helps retain the history of crafts, the knowledge and learning of crafts, the archiving of crafts… So, it is a repository, not only for what has happened in the past but as a learning instrument for the future,” she explains.

Always one to recognize and bring social implications to the fore, Scott also reflects on the importance of receiving the award as an African American and how it says to others that “the art that we do is of import as well.” 

“It can be seismic because we are going through a time in our society now all the “isms” are being challenged, and so my being a woman, and my being an African-American woman, an African-American woman who glows as an artist, an artist who is a craft person… All of these things are very potent. I know for me as a young person it would have been potent to see an African-American woman being lauded in this way.”

Scott, along with the other 2020 ACC Honorees, will be recognized, Oct. 24, during a formal ceremony at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Final plans are forthcoming. Additional information about the 2020 ACC Honorees and updates can be found at https://craftcouncil.org/post/celebrating-50-years-awards-honoring-distinction-craft-field.

February 21 – 23, 2020, the American Craft Council’s American Craft Show will be held at the Baltimore Convention Center, presenting the work of 600 craft artists. For additional information and tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/american-craft-show-baltimore-february-21-23-2020-tickets-83628638509.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

She Persisted unites Southern women of words and art

The South’s complicated history has, for better or worse, given rise to some of the most significant works of art and literature in the American canon. When considered together, they amplify one another and offer a fuller understanding of the complexity of human experience in the region. The Gibbes, in partnership with woman-owned bookstore Itinerant Literate, offers this multidisciplinary opportunity with She Persisted: Women of Letters and the American South, a literary counterpart to the visual works on display as part of ongoing visual arts exhibition, Central to Their Lives. These events focus on female creatives in particular, a nod to the centennial anniversary of women’s suffrage.

She Persisted is a singular event and a conversation with facilitator Julia Eichelberger, director of Southern studies at CofC; Nikky Finney, recipient of the National Book Award for Poetry; and Michele Moore, author of the Charleston-based novel The Cigar Factory. “I’m really honored to have been asked to talk about the literary counterparts to these visual artists and what women in the South have done and are doing to express their individual voices and interpret their lives in the region,” says Eichelberger. “This is a chance to put literature in conversation with visual art and be in a space together where we can talk about how important it is to find your own voice and to encourage the creative voices of others.”

During the event, a slideshow of select images from Central to Their Lives provides a backdrop to the conversation. All of these women, artists and writers alike, were confronting the same social landscape that held so tightly to traditional values. “That’s something that’s true of a lot of the women in this exhibit. They faced various challenges and barriers whether it was opportunities to go to art school and the time to produce art or what other people expected of them as women artists,” says Eichelberger. Their work gives visual context to the discussion of women’s literature from the early 20th century to the present.

Some of the South’s best literature comes from the inkwells of 20th century women like Eudora Welty, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, and Kate Chopin. Hurston and Walker were some of the first writers to give representation to women of color in literature, insisting that human value is more than skin deep. Their writing laid the foundation for writers like Finney who grew up in South Carolina in the midst of the civil rights, black power, and black arts movements. As stated on her website, Finney’s poetry addresses, “Black girl genius unrecognized, Black history misplaced and forgotten, and the stories of women who prefer to jump instead of ride the traditional tracks of polite and acceptable society.” Finney also takes a deep dive into the limitations placed on women’s sexuality and relationships.

Writers like Chopin and Welty grappled with traditional notions of white Southern womanhood. The antebellum South placed white women on a pedestal, prized for their femininity, delicate nature, and physical beauty. Chopin and Welty refused to view femininity through such a narrow lens. “These were writers who are inviting us to rethink what female identity means, looking beyond some of the social roles that were provided for women, and seeing that there’s a human being in there who may have inhabited that role but that there’s so much more to the person than that,” says Eichelberger. By rejecting this idealized version of womanhood, these women were also rejecting traditional Southern values and the notion of the Lost Cause, a mindset used to perpetuate slavery and racism in the South.

Welty, says Eichelberger, “was a forerunner for someone like Michele Moore because Welty was interested in giving voice to a lot of different characters and sort of getting inside their heads and letting readers see the fullness of their lives.” Moore’s novel, set in 1950s Charleston, tells the story of women who worked in the cigar factory, segregated by skin color on different floors but living parallel lives. The novel breaks the popular historical narrative by acknowledging the presence of a working middle class, much less the story of women within this group.

“We still haven’t really made up our minds as a culture regarding what it means to be a woman, or a man for that matter, and female identity is something that continues to be problematic for a lot of people,” says Eichelberger.

Attendees are welcome to view Central to Their Lives before or after the program. The Gibbes will be selling the exhibition catalogue and Itinerant Literate will be selling copies of The Cigar Factory, publications by Finney, and other relevant titles. Finney and Moore will also hold book signings.

She Persisted: Women of Letters and the American South

@ Gibbes Museum of Art

135 Meeting St.

Downtown

Charleston, SC

When: Wed., Feb. 19, 6 p.m.

Price: $15/Members, $25/Non-Members, $10/Students and Faculty with Valid ID

Buy Tickets

Books + Poetry

‘); popup.append(”); var closer = jQuery(”); popup.append(closer); /** * Create an overlay to anchor the popup to the map. */ var overlay = new ol.Overlay({ element: popup.get(0), autoPan: true, autoPanAnimation: { duration: 250 } }); map.addOverlay(overlay); /** * Add a click handler to hide the overlay. * @return {boolean} Don’t follow the href. */ closer.click(function(e) { overlay.setPosition(undefined); e.target.blur(); return false; }); function updateInfoBox(overlay, event) { var map = event.map; var pixel = map.getEventPixel(event.originalEvent); var features = map.getFeaturesAtPixel(pixel, {hitTolerance: 20}); if (overlay && features) { var feature = features[0]; var content = jQuery(overlay.getElement()).find(‘.popup-content’); const id = feature.get(‘id’); const url = feature.get(‘url’); const name = feature.get(‘name’); const teaser = feature.get(‘teaser’); const address = feature.get(‘address’); const addresssupplement = feature.get(‘addresssupplement’); const city = feature.get(‘city’); const state = feature.get(‘state’); const postalcode = feature.get(‘postalcode’); const phone = feature.get(‘phone’); const neighborhoodgroup = feature.get(‘neighborhoodgroup’); const neighborhood = feature.get(‘neighborhood’); const category = feature.get(‘category’); var info = jQuery(“”); info.append(‘

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‘); (teaser) && info.append(‘‘); var details = jQuery(‘‘); (addresssupplement) ? details.append(‘‘ + address + ‘‘ + ‘ ‘ + addresssupplement + ‘‘) : details.append(‘‘ + address + ‘‘); details.append(‘ ‘ + city + ‘, ‘ + ‘‘ + state + ‘ ‘ + ‘‘ + postalcode + ‘‘); (phone) && details.append(‘ ‘ + phone + ‘‘); (neighborhoodgroup) ? details.append(‘ ‘ + neighborhoodgroup + ‘: ‘ + ‘‘ + neighborhood + ‘‘) : details.append(‘ ‘ + neighborhood + ‘‘); details.append(‘ ‘ + category + ‘‘); info.append(details); /* div.details */ info.append(‘ view listing‘); content.html(info.html()); overlay.setPosition(event.coordinate); } else { overlay.setPosition(undefined); } return; } map.on(‘singleclick’, function(evt) { if (evt.dragging) { overlay.setPosition(undefined); return; } updateInfoBox(overlay, evt); }); });

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Cultural appropriation: don’t be an invader

Elvis Presley is a cultural icon known as “the King of Rock and Roll,” but upon his death in 1977, the African-American newspaper Chicago Defender contested that legacy: “Naw he ain’t… [African-American singer and songwriter] Chuck Berry is the King of Rock. Presley was merely a Prince who profited from the royal talent of a sovereign ruler vested with tremendous creativity. Had Berry been white, he could have rightly taken [Presley’s] throne and worn his crown well.”

The newspaper and others since have accused Presley and some of his peers of taking forms of black music – which were sidelined in a segregated US – passing it off as their own, and profiting from it. Presley is just one glaring example of something that has happened throughout history, but which has only recently been named: cultural appropriation. 

Today, the fault line found in Presley’s catalogue runs through every form of culture, from music to fashion to advertising. In the last of those sectors, the past year alone was rife with brands guilty of cultural appropriation. Marks & Spencer labelled a vegan wrap as biryani, while disregarding key elements of the Indian dish and even misspelling it as “biriyani”. Dior’s “Sauvage” fragrance and campaign were slammed for perpetuating harmful stereotypes of Native Americans. Gucci fell foul when it sold an “Indy Turban” headwrap for more than £600, ripping off the Sikh article of faith. 

These and numerous other errors have shone a spotlight on the problem of cultural appropriation in marketing and advertising. “We’ve reached a critical point where it’s on the radar, but sadly people are still getting it wrong,” Shelina Janmohamed, an author and vice-president for Islamic marketing at Ogilvy UK, says. Yet many brands are still misdiagnosing the issue, while failing to recognise the root causes in the creative industries. 

The term “cultural appropriation” first came into use in the late 20th century, amid discussions about multiculturalism and globalism, but the problem was identified decades earlier, when Harlem Renaissance writers in the US criticised the caricature of African-American voices and traditions in entertainment such as minstrel shows. 

Simply put, cultural appropriation is “when you take some elements of other cultures, you try to pass them off as your own, and you try to derive commercial benefit from it – without crediting the people who created that culture or letting them be at the forefront”, Janmohamed explains. “This is particularly exacerbated when the cultures that created it are denigrated for those same traits that are then celebrated.”

More of these clashes are arising in a globalised age and with the dominance of digital platforms, where ideas and content are sometimes shared without acknowledgement of the primary source. “We live in a time where nothing is original and nothing is being done for the first time,” Tarik Fontenelle, co-founder and chief research officer of strategic insight agency On Road, says. “We’re seeing more conflicts within that space day to day, but there’s a line here we need to acknowledge.”

While Presley and early 20th-century US entertainers may have escaped a backlash in their time, the world has changed, and it is now more difficult for perpetrators of cultural appropriation to go unnoticed. 

“The consumer has much more power. We call this generation the ‘call-out generation’ because we are very quick to be able to spot when that line’s been crossed,” Ollie Olanipekun, co-founder and creative director of creative agency Superimpose, says. “People who have been marginalised are now in positions to fight back. Now we have the platforms where our voices can be heard and we have influence.”

Olanipekun points to the popularity of social-media platforms such as Diet Prada, an Instagram account that exposes copycats and other failings in the fashion industry, including instances of cultural appropriation. 

This issue can become difficult to navigate in creative departments, which naturally seek inspiration from a wide array of sources. “We accept that someone has a great idea and you build on that, and that’s how advertising develops. The industry we work in is about creativity and that does mean adopting cultures and ideas that come from all around the world, and being on the cutting edge of trends,” Janmohamed says. “It’s reasonable for us to look at trends in cultures and how they develop.”

Roshni Goyate, co-founder and head of communications at The Other Box, an organisation aimed at increasing diversity in the creative industries, uses this analogy to understand how cultures can influence each other: “Culture is not Tetris blocks. It doesn’t have boundaries around it where we can say this belongs to me, therefore you can’t touch it. It’s more like a lava lamp – it’s moving and blending.”

However, the danger comes when money or profit enter the equation, and one cultural group tries to capitalise on another. That means advertisers, in the business of selling products and growing brands, should be on higher alert. “You’re making money off somebody else’s creative idea,” Janmohamed warns.

‘We call this generation the ‘call-out generation’ because we are very quick to be able to spot when that line’s been crossed’
— Ollie Olanipekun, Superimpose

The writer Nisi Shawl, in a 2004 essay about cultural appropriation, shared useful guidelines to steer clear of this. While she was addressing writers who wished to borrow others’ cultural tropes in literature, the same framework could be applied to brand marketing: are you acting as an invader, a tourist or a guest? 

Shawl explained: “Invaders arrive without warning, take whatever they want for use in whatever way they see fit. They destroy without thinking anything that appears to them to be valueless. They stay as long as they like, leave at their own convenience. Theirs is a position of entitlement without allegiance.”

M&S, Dior and Gucci are among the many brands that could be viewed by some as acting as invaders. One example from outside advertising illustrates the thornier aspects of cultural appropriation. Last year, the Russian electronic DJ Nina Kraviz faced an outcry after posting photos on social media of her hair in cornrows, which also drew attention to the name of her 2011 track Ghetto Kraviz; “ghetto” has been widely used as a derogatory term towards black people. Kraviz defended her choices but failed to acknowledge her privilege as a white woman. Also last year, a school in north London banned its female students, many of whom are black, from wearing cornrows, but quickly reversed the decision after a wave of criticism. 

“When those things are applied to black artists, you don’t get the same praise – you don’t get the luxury. When something is demonised when applied to one culture and then celebrated when used by a more dominant one, that’s the main crux of it,” Jumi Akinfenwa, music supervisor at music and sound agency Pitch & Sync, says. 

In Shawl’s explanation, “tourists” may be less destructive but come with their own pitfalls, just as travellers to a foreign country can be careless and annoying: “They’re generally a nuisance, but at least they pay their way. They can be accommodated. Tourists may be ignorant, but they can be intelligent as well, and are therefore educable.

“When first learning about and incorporating aspects of another’s culture, then, we ought to act like the best of all possible tourists: to stay alert and to be observant, watch for the ways our own background influences how we interpret our surroundings. We ought to remember that we have baggage. We ought to be prepared to pay for what we receive. We ought to be honest about the fact that we’re outsiders. And since we’re in an unfamiliar setting, we shouldn’t be ashamed of occasionally feeling lost. We ought to swallow our pride at such times and ask for help, ask for directions.”

Some brands have shown themselves to be decent tourists. O2 was one, when it launched a 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign that paid tribute to samurai culture. The theme made sense for the England Rugby sponsor, because of the tournament’s location in Japan and the fact that England’s coach, Eddie Jones, is half-Japanese and adheres to principles from the Bushido samurai code. But the campaign could easily have gone wrong if O2 and its agency VCCP had “aped stereotypes, which tends to perpetuate inaccuracies”, Julian Douglas, vice-chairman of VCCP, says.  

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The creative team consulted samurai experts during the making of the ad, down to every detail including the warriors’ armour. “Often where brands get it wrong is if they don’t involve people from whichever culture and if they’re not paying respect,” Douglas says. “There’s a difference between paying respect and homage to the culture, rather than trading off the back of it.”

More recently, Ikea stood out last year with a Christmas ad set to a track by grime MC D Double E. The campaign came soon after the Swedish retailer apologised for adding jerk chicken with rice and peas to its menu while failing to meet the basic qualifications of the Caribbean dish, by using garden peas instead of beans. But at Christmas, it did better, building cred by enlisting a pioneer of grime and handing him the reins to create a song in his original style. Ikea was conscious that the ad should not “make a mockery” of the genre, Kemi Anthony, the retailer’s UK and Ireland advertising manager, says. 

When D Double E first headed into the recording studio, “we agreed that he was still not being as true to himself as he could be. We thought, we brought you on for a reason so we want you to do what you do,” Anthony recalls. Ikea and its agency Mother collaborated with the MC by bringing in producers he knew, letting him freestyle and “making sure he wasn’t compromising anything”, she adds. 

Not “watering it down” actually gave the ad mass appeal, and it was celebrated by members of the public, press and grime fans alike, Anthony says. D Double E went on to debut the full-length track on BBC Radio 1 and make an accompanying music video. “An unsung hero came from this unlikely partnership not only intact but with a bigger platform than he had before,” Mother partner Hermeti Balarin says. 

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The lesson for other marketers, Anthony says, is to stay brave and authentic: “We had to do it properly and not be scared to embrace what grime is, or not do it at all. I didn’t want that halfway house.”

However, Fontenelle takes a contrarian view of Ikea’s ad, which shows a couple fixing up their flat after household objects come to life and mock them for its shabbiness. He applauds the music and craft but worries that “it drives home the politics of comparison, making you look at yourself and say: ‘I don’t have as nice stuff as my mates.’ That’s where culture can be used as a dangerous weapon against people who are engaging with it.”

Anthony contends: “‘Home shame’ is a thing; people do experience it. We were saying, actually your home is not as bad as you think it is, and with some easy fixes, it’s fine.” Yet the concern raised by Fontenelle shows how a brand acting as a cultural “tourist” can easily be misunderstood. 

According to Shawl, a tourist has the potential to turn into a guest, which is the best part to play: “Guests are invited. Their relationships with their hosts can become long-term commitments and are often reciprocal.”

In marketing, Nike epitomises the role of a good guest. Realising that it had lost touch with London’s youth culture, three years ago the brand turned to Fontenelle’s company On Road to conduct research. “They came to us and said: ‘We just want to learn.’ They set up five or six hypotheses and not a single one was right. They were, like: ‘Yay, we’re wrong,’” Fontenelle says. “That’s a real lesson: you need to learn when someone’s telling you you’re wrong about something.”

What resulted from that lesson is one of the most lauded UK campaigns in recent years: Nike’s “Nothing beats a Londoner”. A big reason that the ad was so loved and able to speak to the heart of London’s youth was that it involved many of those same kids in the creative process. “You can see it in the trueness of the campaign and the way people reacted to it and connected with it. It really reflects them and is in their voice,” Fontenelle says.

In fact, the ad in 2018 was just the beginning of a five-year commitment that Nike made to support young Londoners. Since then, it has signed multi-year partnerships with youth sports organisations such as London Youth Games and Virgin Sport in Hackney, and it is transforming retail spaces, including its Shoreditch shop, into community centres. At a time when many young people in the capital are being vilified in the media, Nike is championing their entrepreneurship and creativity. 

“I want that to be the standard for all companies – working naturally within culture and finding a true exchange of cultures,” Fontenelle says.

But Nike is still an exception among brands, not the rule. Cultural appropriation missteps expose a deeper problem in advertising and marketing. “Our industry has a woeful underrepresentation of people from diverse backgrounds,” Janmohamed says. “Even when they are there, there isn’t a culture where those views can be properly heard and addressed.”

When attempting to borrow from other cultures, Janmohamed warns against “wandering down the corridor and picking your local woman of colour or your nearby Muslim man, thrusting something in front of them and saying: ‘Is this alright?’. That disrespects the professional expertise that is needed.”

‘When something is demonised when applied to one culture and then celebrated when used by a more dominant one, that’s the main crux of it’
— Jumi Akinfenwa, Pitch & Sync

Before starting his own agency, Olanipekun was put in that position numerous times. “I was wheeled out as the cultural guy, the guy who was ‘down’. Sometimes it would be a topic on the West Indian community, and I’m, like, my parents are from Africa, that’s quite far from Jamaica. That was very prevalent,” he recalls. “But when it came to celebrating me internally and giving me those promotions, they were not interested.”

Through her work with The Other Box, Goyate has found that the “emotional labour is still falling on minority communities to do the vocalising. It shouldn’t be that way.”

She adds: “All you can do is say, that Indian or black person we’ve hired, are we giving them opportunities across all of the projects, accounts and briefs? That adds a level of nuance rather than just reductive stereotyping and borrowing. Companies should be looking at this from a holistic point of view – it needs to be about long-term behaviours. What are they doing to help the communities in which they operate or make sure their company culture is inclusive?” 

As long as a lack of diversity persists, so will cultural appropriation. “It’s always going to be an issue as long as the world is out of tilt. That’s the harsh reality,” Olanipekun says. 

Yet there is a hunger for new cultural icons and stories – it is evident everywhere from the reception of an underground grime MC to the London kids who became the beloved stars of a Nike ad. 

“For far too long we’ve had our stories whitewashed or not been able to tell our own stories,” Olanipekun says. “Now all of these marginalised groups are saying: ‘Why are you talking for me?’”  

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Brit Awards 2020: main winners of the night

The build-up to the Brit Awards was overshadowed by criticism of the lack of female nominees

Rapper Dave took home the most coveted prize from the Brit Awards, but singer Lewis Capaldi totted up the most gongs.

The build-up to the annual awards show was overshadowed by criticism of the lack of female nominees in mixed gender categories, with just four women named in 25 spots — all loosing out to men.

Twenty-one year-old Dave took home best album for his first offering Psychodrama, which addresses black identity and institutional racism, and topped the country’s music charts last year.

Here are the main winners of the night:

  • Album of the year — Psychodrama by Dave
  • Best British male — Stormzy
  • Best British female — Mabel
  • Best new artist — Lewis Capaldi
  • Best song — Someone I Loved by Lewis Capaldi
  • Best British group — Foals
  • International female — Billie Eilish
  • International male — Tyler the Creator

The Brit Awards have recognised the cream of British music since they were first held in 1977, but have often been peppered with scandal and farce.

The disproportionately male shortlists come despite the Brits’ voting academy undergoing a major overhaul in 2017 to make it more gender balanced and diverse, with hundreds of new members joining the nominating pool.

But while women were under-represented in the awards, black artists dominated the nominations in ‘best album’ and ‘best male’.

British artists account for an eighth of album sales worldwide, according to figures from BPI, which represents the British music industry.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

London rapper Dave wins big at male-dominated Brit Awards

Twenty-one year-old Dave took home best album for his first offering
Twenty-one year-old Dave took home best album for his first offering “Psychodrama”, which addresses black identity and institutional racism and topped the UK music charts last year.

LONDON: Breakthrough London rapper Dave won the top gong at a male-dominated Brit Awards on Tuesday after delivering a politically-charged performance at British pop’s biggest night.

The build-up to the annual awards show was overshadowed by criticism of the lack of female nominees in mixed gender categories, with just four women named in 25 spots — all loosing out to men.

Twenty-one year-old Dave took home best album for his first offering “Psychodrama”, which addresses black identity and institutional racism, and topped the country’s music charts last year.

He earned a standing ovation at London’s O2 Arena for his performance of the album’s standout track ‘Black’, to which he added a new verse accusing prime minister, Boris Johnson, of being a “real racist” and calling out the press treatment of Prince Harry’s wife Meghan Markle.

Dave’s rival in the nominations, indie newcomer Lewis Capaldi, beat him to the awards for best new artist and best song for “Someone You Loved”

Glasgow-born Capaldi is riding high after his debut album, “Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent,” became Britain’s best-selling album of 2019.

But both Capaldi and Dave lost out on the best British male award to leading grime artist Stormzy, who delivered an explosive set that involved rain, firecrackers and more than fifty people on stage.

Collecting his award, he paid tribute to the women he works with.

“To be the best male, I have got the most incredible females in my team,” he said.

Billie Eilish has licence to thrill

Other winners included teenage sensation Billie Eilish, who won best international female solo artist and performed her new James Bond soundtrack during the ceremony.

The 18-year-old had been up against Lizzo, Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello and Lana del Rey.

“I felt very hated recently,” she told the audience, after having revealed she no longer reads social media comments.

“When I was on stage and I saw you guys all smiling at me it genuinely made me want to cry and I want to cry now.”

“No Time To Die” has already racked up nearly 26 million views on her YouTube channel, capping a remarkable few weeks for the singer who is the youngest artist to record a Bond track.

The Brit Awards have recognised the cream of British music since they were first held in 1977, but have often been peppered with scandal and farce.

The disproportionately male shortlists come despite the Brits’ voting academy undergoing a major overhaul in 2017 to make it more gender balanced and diverse, with hundreds of new members joining the nominating pool.

But while women were under-represented in the awards, black artists dominated the nominations in ‘best album’ and ‘best male’.

British artists account for an eighth of album sales worldwide, according to figures from BPI, which represents the British music industry.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Hampton B. Allen Library hosts programs honoring Black History Month

Anson Middle School students participated in the Blacks in Wax program at Hampton B. Allen Library in Wadesboro. –
Jazz trombonist Raymond Harris was among the historical figures portrayed during the event. –
Political activist Angela Davis was also represented in the program. –
Winnie Bennett depicts life as the slave, Grandma Lizzie, who recalls how she was captured from her home country, as part of the Ghana presentation. – –

WADESBORO- The Hampton B. Allen Library has held a number of events throughout Feb. to highlight Black History Month. Blacks in Wax. presented by the Anson Youth Leaders Academy, as well as Ghana and the Gospel presented by Winnie Bennett of Morven were among the programs featured.

Ghana and the Gospel was held at the Library on Feb. 15 and Bennett gave a riveting presentation about the horrors of the pre-slavery days of Africans before they were brought to the Americas on the slave ships.

The presentation focused on Bennett’s 2018 trip to the African country of Ghana and the history she learned while there. Bennett traveled to Ghana along with a group of students from Berea College of Berea, Kentucky.

While in Ghana, Bennett learned of the horrific experiences of Africans who were captured by Europeans coming from Portugal, the Netherlands, and other nations engaged in the slave trade. Africans were captured in their home villages and held for months in the slave castles on the Western coast of Africa.

After these lengthy stays in the castles, the slaves spent months on what is called the Middle Passage, the trip on boats bringing them to the Americas. Through a fictional depiction as the slave, Grandma Lizzie, Bennet used historical records learned from the Ghana trip to depict life for Africans prior to the Middle Passage.

As part of the event, several local church choirs sang selections reminding the audience of the rich gospel history of the African-American community. Musical selections were rendered by the Men’s Choir of Saron Baptist Church of Polkton and Flat Rock Baptist Church of Wadesboro, N. C. Betty Huntley provided information about the importance of each of the songs to the Black experience. Dannie Montgomery served as the Mistress of Ceremonies.

Bobby Tillman of Wadesboro was on hand to share information about a book he has written, titled We Are All Different Colors, But We Are All the Same. He hopes this book will impact both young people and older individuals alike.

Anson Middle School students presented the program Blacks in Wax Museum on Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Hampton B. Allen Library. The event was coordinated by the Anson Youth Leaders Academy, which is a program of the Caraway Foundation that focuses on instilling leadership skills in its young members.

The program featured students who dramatized key figures from Black History including Raymond Harris, Muhammad Ali, Claudette Colvin, Madame C. J. Walker, Bessie Coleman, Sojourner Truth, Oprah Winfrey, Angela Davis, John Carlos, and Joan Higgenbotham. These historical figures were portrayed by the students A’Mya Teal, Ishan Simms, Ta’Myzia Simons, Taylor Bennett, Charity Harris, Devona Little, Za’Kiyah Hixson, Katie Little, Jasmine Polk, Courtney Sturdivant, and Lidia-Cano Luna.

The next event scheduled as part of the Hampton B. Allen Library’s Black History Month is the showing of the film Hidden Figures on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020 at 5 p. m. On Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020 at 5 p. m. the Black Arts Extravaganza is scheduled at the Library. It will feature performances in drama, music, and literature from local talent.

Black Arts Extravaganza will also spotlight and celebrate the Grammy-award winning Anson County native, Richard Spencer, who composed the song Color Him Father while he was a member of the singing group, The Winstons. The Winstons won a Best R & B Song Grammy for the song in 1970.

Anson Middle School students participated in the Blacks in Wax program at Hampton B. Allen Library in Wadesboro.

Jazz trombonist Raymond Harris was among the historical figures portrayed during the event.

Political activist Angela Davis was also represented in the program.

Winnie Bennett depicts life as the slave, Grandma Lizzie, who recalls how she was captured from her home country, as part of the Ghana presentation.

For more information about the Anson Youth Leaders Academy and The Caraway Foundation, contact Ms. Angela Caraway, at angela@thecarawayfoundation.org.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Visit Philadelphia: Guide to Black History Month in Philadelphia 2020 (partial guide)

ABOVE PHOTO: Marsh + Mane (Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

Celebrate Black History Month with special tours, book discussions, performances and more…

visitphilly.com

Black history and culture are a vital part of Philadelphia’s past, present and future.

And while the city recognizes and reflects on the role that Black people played — and continue to play — in the history of our nation all year long, Black History Month inspires even more celebration across the region.

During Black History Month in Philadelphia, residents and visitors reflect on the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which said that the right to vote could not be denied based on race; discuss the effects of gentrification in Philadelphia and enjoy a variety of concerts, exhibitions, workshops and more.

Visitors can also check out and support Philly’s stellar array of Black-owned and operated businesses, including top restaurants and coffee spots, fantastic boutiques, independent bookstores and more.

Read on for our guide on how to celebrate Black History Month in Philadelphia for 2020.

Note: Events in this article are arranged in chronological order.

The Philly POPS Present Aretha: Respect at the Kimmel Center

The Philly POPS performing at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia — Photo courtesy the Philly POPS

February 14-16, 2020

Image

To honor the Queen of Soul, The Philly POPS features Broadway powerhouse Capathia Jenkins and R&B singer Ryan Shaw in a program that includes renditions of Bridge Over Troubled Water, Respect and Chain of Fools.

Where: The Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad Street

Black History Month Performances at Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

February 16 & 20, 2020

The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts celebrates Black History Month with two incredible performances for 2020. In Intuition: Songs From The Minds Of Women, Alicia Olatuja — who performed at the 2013 presidential inauguration — makes her Philadelphia debut with songs from her new album (February 16, 2020). Four days later, artist Angélique Kidjo, who was dubbed “Africa’s premier diva” by Time Magazine, wows the crowd (February 20, 2020).

Where: Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut Street

Celebrating Black History Month: Frederick Douglass at The Library Company of Philadelphia

Wednesday, February 19, 2020 | 2:30-3:30 p.m.

During this special program, The Library Company of Philadelphia showcases original documents related to Frederick Douglass’ abolition efforts. The collection includes broadsides and manuscripts as well as photos of the man who became known as the most photographed man of the 19th century.

Where: Library Company of Philadelphia, 1314 Locust Street

Voices of Hope: A Black History Month Celebration at the Please Touch Museum

A photo of the interior of the Please Touch Museum — Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Thursday, February 20, 2020 | 6 p.m.

The free Voices of Hope Black History Month Celebration features performances by PHILADANCO, Philadelphia Heritage Chorale, Monique Brooks Roberts, Sister Cities Girlchoir and CAPA String Quartet. Registration is required for tickets to the event, which takes place at the Please Touch Museum.

Where: Please Touch Museum, 4231 Avenue of the Republic

Yolanda Wisher’s Rent Party at The Rosenbach: Black Beats Edition

Thursday, February 20, 2020 | 7 p.m.

The Rosenbach’s seventh edition of Yolanda Wisher’s Rent Party — an event paying homage to the Harlem Renaissance tradition of artists and musicians throwing house parties to pay their rent — focuses on the lives of four African American poets who were part of the beat poetry movement of the 1940s and 1950s. The event features vocal and drum performances, Beat poetry classics and more.

Where: The Rosenbach, 2006 Delancey Place

At the Blockson Collection: A Conversation and Book Signing with Haki Madhubuti

Friday, February 21, 2020 | 2-4 p.m.

On Friday, February 21, the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection hosts a conversation and book signing with Haki Madhubuti, the National Endowment for the Arts-winning poet who founded the Third World Press — the oldest independent publisher of Black literature in the nation. The event is completely free.

Where: Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, 1330 Polett Walk

Awakened in You: The Collection of Dr. Constance E. Clayton at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

February 21 – July 12, 2020

At this new exhibit, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts displays more than 75 works by African American artists from the collection of educator and arts advocate Dr. Constance E. Clayton. The collection features mostly paintings and works on paper, and also include sculptures by Richmond Barthé and Augusta Savage.

Where: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 118-128 N. Broad Street

True Justice: Film Showing and Discussion at Eastern PA Conference of the United Methodist Church

Saturday, February 22, 2020 | 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

The Eastern PA Conference of the United Methodist Church hosts a screening of the HBO documentary True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality, about Stevenson’s work to bring justice to wrongly convicted individuals. After the film, guests can join a panel discussion about race in regards to the criminal justice system.

Where: Eastern PA Conference of the United Methodist Church, 980 Madison Avenue, Norristown

Ladies Night Out: Comedy Tour at The Met Philadelphia

Ladies Night Out comedy show line-up at The Met Philadelphia — Photo courtesy The Met Philadelphia

Saturday, February 22, 2020 | 8 p.m.

Head to The Met Philadelphia for a hilarious evening featuring some of the funniest Black women in America. NeNe Leakes hosts the event with guests Loni Love, Adele Givens, Sherri Shepherd, Kym Whitley and B Simone.

Where: The Met Philadelphia, 858 N. Broad Street

Jazz in the Planetarium at The Franklin Institute

Tuesday, February 25, 2020 | 6:30-8 p.m.

Grab a cocktail, sit under the stars and enjoy live jazz courtesy of Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble at this new-for-2020 event inside The Franklin Institute’s Fels Planetarium. Derrick Pitts, chief astronomer at The Franklin Institute, joins the festivities by narrating a special version of The Sky Tonight, an interactive tour of the constellations and planets visible from the planetarium.

Where: The Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th Street

Black-Owned Restaurants in Philadelphia

Philadelphia is rich in Black culture — and that includes an array of Black-owned and -operated restaurants, coffee shops and bars. Make a point to dine out at one (or more!) of the many Black-owned restaurants in the City of Brotherly Love, including Franny Lou’s Porch (shown above), 48th Street Grille, Aksum Cafe and more.

Where: Various locations including Franny Lou’s Porch, 2400 Coral Street

Black-Owned Shops & Boutiques

Philadelphia has a stellar array of Black-owned and -operated shops, boutiques and bookstores. Guests can visit Amalgam Comics and Coffee House, whose owner is the first Black woman on the East Coast to own a comic-book shop. Also, visitors and locals can shop made-to-measure suits at Damari Savile, grab the essentials at the city’s first boutique specializing in natural products for Black hair and skin at Marsh + Mane, or catch a yoga workshop after shopping accessories and clothing at The Sable Collective.

Where: Various locations including Marsh + Mane, 529 S. 4th Street

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment