Dominion of New York


August 12, 2012

10 Ways to Celebrate Black Heritage & Culture This Summer

More articles by »
Written by: Michael Starkey

Illustration Courtesy of Flickr/picishouldshare


ummer is winding down, so New Yorkers are going all out these next few weeks to get the most out of the city. Here’s a list of mostly free and fun events celebrating some aspect of the African Diaspora. Happy August and September!

Eric Benet, Salt-n-Pepa, Christopher Williams, Kenny Lattimore, Q. Parker, FREE, August 12
Central Park, SummerStage, 4th Annual R&B Festival

SummerStage presents a great lineup for their Fourth Annual R&B Festival.  It’s a day for the grown-and-sexy with artists from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.  Come early to line up for the free event. Salt-n-Pepa put on a great show in Brooklyn a few days ago, and I expect they will again.

NYC Dominican Day Parade, FREE, August 12
Manhattan, Sixth Avenue, 36th St. to 52nd St.

Midtown Manhattan will host the NY Dominican Day Parade.  The parade, which first marched in 1982, is expected to draw over 10,000 people.  Be part of the fun.

Ledisi and Joe, August 13
Wingate Field, Brooklyn, Martin Luther King Concert Series

Popular west coast singer Ledisi will perform in Brooklyn at Wingate Field.  It’s the second year in a row that Ledisi will perform in Brooklyn outdoors; last year she was part of Celebrate Brooklyn! in Prospect Park.   This year her show is part of a great series, the Martin Luther King Concert Series.  Ledisi comes from Oakland, CA, where she’s established herself as an artist with a great voice and a solid stage performer.  Also performing will be R&B star Joe.

Goapele, Yolanda Zama, and Screening of the film Come Back Africa, FREE, August 14
Central Park, SummerStage, Tribute to the African National Congress

This event honors the 100th anniversary of the formation of South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC).  South African born singer-songwriter Yolanda Zama and Oakland, California’s Goapele will perform.  The event will close with a screening of the South African film Come Back Africa.

Harlem Week, main weekend, FREE, August 18-19
Harlem, “Summer in the City,” “NY Children’s Festival,” and “Harlem Day”

Harlem Week includes more than a month of events.  The main weekend is August 18-19 this year.  The weekend will include salutes to Jamaican independence, called “Summer in the City,” which will be on Saturday.  Sunday, known as “Harlem Day,” will include a tribute to South Africa, honoring the 100th anniversary of the African National Congress.  Both Saturday and Sunday will include an event called “NY Children’s Festival.”

Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary of Independence concert featuring Inner Circle, Israel Vibration, The Mighty Diamonds, DJ Carter Van Pelt, FREE, August 19,
Central Park, SummerStage

2012 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Jamaican independence.  There are several events marking the anniversary, including Harlem Week’s “Summer in the City” on August 18.  One of the biggest events will be SummerStage’s August 19th free concert in Central Park.  It will feature music by Inner Circle, Israel Vibration, The Mighty Diamonds, and DJ Carter Van Pelt.

Annual Gospel Night featuring Cissy Houston, FREE, August 20
Wingate Field, Brooklyn, Martin Luther King Concert Series

This fantastic free summer concert series will close on August 20th with the Annual Gospel Night concert. This year’s concert will feature Cissy Houston as part of a tribute to her daughter Whitney.  Vickie Winans will also perform.

Afro-punk Fest, Aug 25-26
Commodore Barry Park, Brooklyn

Are you a little outside the norm?  Brooklyn’s Afro-punk Festival may be just what you need.  The event started as a celebration of black punk and rock music, and it’s evolved into an event this year with a little something for everybody.  Erykah Badu, Das Racist, and Janelle Monae are the big names, but there will be plenty of lesser known and more avant-garde groups as well.  These acts include Gym Class Heroes, Toro Y Moi, Body Language, and many others.

West Indian Day Parade, FREE, September 3
Brooklyn, Eastern Parkway

This large parade and street festival is supplemented by events throughout the Labor Day weekend. Events on Friday and Saturday are primarily targeted toward children. The costumes are beautiful and the food delectable, but the parade thoroughfare is really crowded and sometimes prone to violence. So be cautious.

African American Day Parade, FREE, September 16

This annual parade will march along Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard from 111th St. to 136th St. Former governor David Paterson will be one of several Grand Marshals.  This year is the event’s 43rd anniversary.

Sixth Annual African Day Parade and Festival, FREE, September 23

The parade route is along Malcolm X Boulevard from 135th St. to 122nd St.  It is followed by a festival at Marcus Garvey Park.  Drummers, dancers, singers, and others will march and perform.

About the Author

Michael Starkey
Michael Starkey
Michael Starkey is an engineer 9-5, but in his spare time he writes about music and cultural history. His work includes "'Mercy, Mercy Me, The Ecology': Environmental Themes in Black Music" and "Hidden from Sight: African Americans and the Wilderness", presented at the annual conference of American Society of Environmental History, in 2006 and 2007 respectively. He is currently working on a book based on his master's thesis, "Wilderness, Race, and African Americans: An Environmental History from Slavery to Jim Crow." Michael lives and work in New York, NY. He currently resides in East Harlem with his wife and splits his work time between offices in Queens and Manhattan. He enjoys bicycling, listening to music, and playing soccer.


New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, left to right. Photo courtesy of Flickr/Azipaybarah