New York City is very African American and Latin culture is very African through the Caribbean and South America. Cuba, Brazil, Veracruz and New Orleans are cultural focal points.
The beginning of African American culture, in what became the United States, was Congo Square (Place Congo, 1718 to 1850s) in French New Orleans.
Africa is a huge and extremely diverse continent. A U.S. education tends to treat it as a monolith, but Africa is bursting with rich and unique cultures.
We are aware of four African culture groups that are related, but unique in their own ways.
- There is the African culture of Africa. There are many different cultures and many great ancient civilizations in Africa.
- There is the African Diaspora in the Caribbean and Latin America. It’s blended with the culture of Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch and English colonizers. It’s everywhere in Latin America, even in places you don’t think have African culture, and is celebrated by people who you wouldn’t think of as African.
- There is the African Diaspora in the United States which developed from Congo Square into most American popular culture. Regardless of your heritage, African culture is an inseparable part of who we are as Americans of the United States.
- There is the African Diaspora in Europe. Less than nine miles separates the two continents so there has always been a lot mixing in both directions. More recently, the children of colonizers went home to Europe.
Regardless of the heritage of the performers, gospel, blues, jazz, swing, country, rock, disco, hip-hop, salsa, reggaeton and Latin trap are mostly African culture through the Caribbean. Popular culture of the United States is really African.
We need to talk about faith too. Islam and Orisha faiths are faiths of Africa. They have been demonized by colonizers, but it’s wrong. There are no demons, only demonizers. These are faiths like all the others. In the Medieval Era, Islamic culture was more advanced than European culture, so Europeans copied a lot from the Islamic world. Orisha faiths have many similarities with the ancient Greek faiths and Indigenous faiths around the world. Indigenous faiths are based on nature.
The “good trouble” across our country now is unfinished business from our colonial past. It’s long past time to decolonize our own heads and cherish the richness of African culture in the United States and around the world. It’s an important part of who we are.
Africa is mother and Beyoncé is right: “Black is King.”
Sunday-Wed, September 13-16, 2020 NUORDER.COM
Thursday, June 3, 2021 – “E ku odun, eku iyedun” (Happy New Year)
Friday, August 28, 2020 – MARCH ON WASHINGTON FOR JOBS & FREEDOM Washington D.C. August 28, 1963
Friday, June 26, 2020 NYCSUMMERSTAGE YOUTUBE
June 11, 2020
African Festivals in NYC
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Black History Month, Kwanzaa, African American Day Parade, West Indian Day Parade, Afropunk, Afro-Latino Festival, AfriBembé, Harlem Havana, Black Comic Book Festival
Sunday-Sunday, August 16-23, 2020 HARLEM, New York City
Tuesday, July 28, 2020 sugarhillmuseum.org – In place of the Children’s March for Justice
Sunday, December 26, 2020 – Saturday, January 1, 2021
Tuesday, May 18, 2021 LITTLE HAITI, Flatbush, Brooklyn – ARCAHAIE, Haiti May 18, 1803
Saturday, June 19, 2021 🇺🇸 GALVESTON, Texas June 19, 1865
May 17 – July 7, 2020 Virtual on BAM.ORG
Friday-Saturday, January 17-18, 2020 SCHOMBURG CENTER Harlem, NYC
Sunday, September 15, 2019 HARLEM, NYC ~ Melba Moore and the Orange Crush Roaring Lion Marching Band of Lincoln University lead the parade on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd
Thu-Mon, Aug 29-Sep 2, 2019 LABOR DAY WEEKEND Reggae Afrobeats Soca Summer Jam Youth Fest BrassFest Junior Carnival Parade Panorama Steelband Championship Dimanche Gras Carnival Sunday Party VIP Breakfast Parade CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn ~ The Brooklyn Museum and the Parade on Eastern Avenue turns the neighborhood into a Caribbean Carnival
Sat-Sun, August 24-25, 2019 COMMODORE BARRY PARK Fort Greene, Brooklyn Jill Scott, FKA Twigs, Leon Bridges and Kamasi Washington, about 40 more artists and a street fashion show with 70,000 models.
Sunday, August 18, 2019 EAST HARLEM ART PARK, NYC 🇨🇺 🇩🇴 🇭🇹 🇬🇳 🇭🇳 🇲🇱 🇵🇷 🇺🇸
Fri-Sat, July 12-13, 2019 DOWNTOWN, Brooklyn
African New York City
“New York is a secret African city.”Robert Farris Thompson, American historian at Yale University
In the beginning, New York City was built by Africans. The first Africans were brought to New Amsterdam by the Dutch in 1626. They were forced to build the wall on Wall Street which became a place where you could buy and sell humans. The first official human auction was in 1655. A human market was set up at the corner of Wall and Pearl Streets in 1711.
New York’s traditional African neighborhoods are Harlem in Manhattan, and Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn. Take the (A) train between them. A is for Africa.
Manhattan has had many Little Africas. Currently it is on 116th St west of Fifth Avenue. The Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market is a great place to buy West African products.
East of Fifth Avenue, 116th St becomes the main street of El Barrio Spanish Harlem. Black and Latin are two sides of the same coin.
Saturday, September 12 PROSPECT PARK, Brooklyn
Tuesday-Friday EL BARRIO, EAST HARLEM, NYC – Preserves and promotes the culture of Africa and the African diaspora – whether African, African-American, Afro-Latino or Afro-Caribbean.
JOAN WEIL CENTER FOR DANCE Hell’s Kitchen, NYC – The African-American modern dance company that popularized modern dance around the world, performs at New York City Center in fall and the David H. Koch Theater in spring.
Thursday-Sunday HARLEM, NYC – A jazz cellar bar at the Red Rooster, Marcus Samuelsson’s famous restaurant in Harlem.
HARLEM, NYC ~ The soul of Harlem. Wednesdays are Amateur Night at The Apollo!
COLUMBUS CIRCLE, NYC – The world’s leading jazz institution. – ¡New York Latin Culture Sponsor!
COLUMBUS CIRCLE, NYC Jazz supper club overlooking Central park swings nightly at Jazz at Lincoln Center ~ ¡New York Latin Culture Sponsor!
Closed Mondays EAST HARLEM ~ A center for dialogue on policy, business and the culture of Africa and the African diaspora
Monday-Saturday HARLEM, NYC This library of African culture grew out of the literary collection of Puerto Rican collector Arturo Alfonso Schomburg during the Harlem Renaissance
HAMILTON HEIGHTS, NYC ~ This fine ballet company and ballet school has superb African, Brazilian, Creole and Cuban dancers
The soul of New York City is at the Apollo Theater, Ginny’s at the Red Rooster, Minton’s Playhouse, Paris Blues and around
What makes someone a New Yorker? When you’re here, you are a New Yorker.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020 🇨🇺 🇺🇸 HAVANA, Cuba October 21, 1925 ¡Azúcar!
Wednesday, October 21, 2020 CHERAW, South Carolina ~ October 21, 1917
Thursday, December 3, 2020 🇨🇺 🇺🇸 HAVANA, Cuba December 3, 1907
Friday, July 31, 2020 at 1pm nationalsawdust.org FREE
Wednesday, April 1, 2020 GINNY’S SUPPER CLUB Harlem, NYC
The African World
Here language completely fails us.
Sunday, November 1, 2020 CARTAGENA, Colombia The greatest Colombian salsa singer of all time was born on November 1, 1955. “Rebelión” (No le pegue a la negra), “En Barranquilla me quedo,” “La Noche”
Thursday, April 15, 2021 MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL April 15, 1947
Tue-Sun, February 18-23, 2020 JOYCE THEATER Chelsea, NYC – The Algerian-French contemporary dance company celebrates its 20th anniversary with a Mediterranean journey through our common humanity.
Thursday, October 1, 2020 🇧🇷 🇨🇴 🇪🇹 🇭🇳 🇺🇬 🇲🇽 🇬🇹
Monday, September 7, 2020 UNION CITY, New Jersey 🇨🇺 IGLESIA DE NUESTRA SEÑORA DE REGLA, Regla, Havana, Cuba
Wednesday, August 19, 2020 at 7pm FLUSHING TOWN HALL FACEBOOK FREE – Martin Vejarano La Cumbiamba Grupo Rebolú Folklore Urbano Sebastián Cruz NYC Gaita Club Harold Gutierrez Freddy Castiblanco
Wednesday, August 19, 2020 DIEGO OBREGON TRIBUTE FLUSHING TOWN HALL FACEBOOK LIVESTREAM FREE
ONLINE Through August 2, 2020 PREMIERE Sat, July 25 at 8pm TALKS & WORKSHOPS Wed-Sat, July 22-25, 2020 DTH SOCIAL CHANNELS
Thursday, December 3, 2020 MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay
Friday, December 11, 2020 DECEMBER 11
MONTH January 17 – February 16, 2021 SEASON January 31 – February 16, 2021 WEEK February 11 – 16, 2021 – FAT TUESDAY, MARDI GRAS Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Tuesday, February 2, 2021 TENERIFE, Canary Islands, Spain
Tuesday, February 16, 2021 NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana
Wednesday, July 28, 2021 HARLEM, NYC ~ July 28, 1917
Thursdays, April 16, 23, 30 & May 7, 2020 ZOOM CARIBBEAN CULTURAL CENTER AFRICAN DIASPORA INSTITUTE El Barrio, East Harlem – Oba Frank Bell leads a webinar on Integral Plants & Herbs in Afro-Cuban Orisha & Palo Traditions. FREE
Friday, March 13, 2020 BARBÈS: Park Slope, Brooklyn
Saturday, February 29, 2020 Afro-Peruvian tambor jams with Jewish klezmer.
Wed, December 18, 2019 JULIA DE BURGOS CENTER El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC Celebrate Christmas Puerto Rican style with a bomba and plena Parranda cycle ¡WEPA!
Latin rap, by the Jamaican diaspora in Panama, jumped to New York, and developed in Puerto Rico before going worldwide. Colombians are making great reggaeton now too. “Tu Pun Pun, mami-mami, no…”
Black Lives Matter
Thank you Black Lives Matter for your courage and persistence. To get more real, lasting change, we need to put all this energy into voting and the census (vote.org).
Reevaluating every way we represent African culture is forcing us to decolonize our own heads. Each thing we change reveals something else we need to change. We are working on it.
From the Editor
Africa is mother, the mother of all humanity. So literally, if you are not African, you are not human.
If you’re not African, you’re not human”Keith Widyolar, Editor-in-Chief, New York Latin Culture Magazine (2018)
African culture is a difficult topic because Latin culture in the Americas and even in Europe has a lot of African in it. In the truest sense, most of our coverage is African culture – even if we don’t call it that. Language and our U.S. cultural training fail us.
It gets even more confusing when you wonder whether someone or something is Puerto Rican or African, Colombian or African, or American or African. Is Machito of Machito and his Afro-Cubans, African, Cuban, American or British?
Most of us would be completely lost if we took a plane to Africa, yet the way we sing and dance, and some of the stories we tell our children are African.
African culture dominates U.S popular culture. Puerto Rican salsa and Latin jazz legend Eddie Palmieri nailed it when he said at the 92nd Street Y, “The Spaniard brought the African and the African put everyone to dance. In the United States, they took away the drum and we got the blues.”
“The Spaniard brought the African and the African put everyone to dance. In the United States, they took away the drum and we got the blues.”Eddie Palmieri at the 92nd Street Y
The blues is the root of American music of the United States. Jazz, country music, rock and everything that followed are built on the blues. In a way, much of the United States was built on the blues. Wall Street was literally built on the blues at the corner of Pearl St. African spirit cannot be broken.
A U.S. education doesn’t teach us much about Africa. It’s treated as a monolith, though Africa is a very diverse continent. If Spain and Portugal are mother countries, then so are African nations from Senegal to Angola and really all of coastal Africa. The stories just haven’t been told well.
As Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, founder of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute once said at the Avalon Ballroom in Harlem, “We have to tell our own stories because nobody else will.”
“We have to tell our own stories because nobody else will.”Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, CCCADI
Forgive our ignorance. Our education failed us, but we want to know better. We want to tell these stories, because they are our stories too.
Keith Widyolar, Editor-in-Chief
African-American Culture is Mostly Caribbean, and Caribbean Culture is Mostly African
“You may write me down in history
with your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”
Maya Angelou, from Still I Rise, 1978