“This is a safe space for black and brown people,” affirmed Princess Nokia before sending a shout-out to Oshun, the neo-soul hip-hop duo with a cult following that performed hours before on the same stage at the Afro-Latino Festival NYC. The exchange captured the essence of the Festival’s 4th edition, where art and culture became a tool for empowerment, solidarity-building, and healing.
The Afro-Latino Festival NYC (www.afrolatinfestnyc.com), one of the few platforms in the nation and the world celebrating Afro-latinidad, took place this past weekend, July 8th to July 10th. The 3-day event successfully completed its 4th year delivering a powerful and positive message—“Affirm, Educate and Celebrate” Afro-Latinidad—through a series of intellectually engaging panels, documentary screenings, key-note speakers and flavorful music and food. (You can see praises to the space the Festival provided here).
The events kicked off on Friday, July 8th with the Afrolatin Talks at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, one of the Festival’s newest sponsors. Renowned panelists discussed significant issues affecting Afro-latinos in the U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean, including Immigration and Marginalization, Black Latinx Feminism, and the Black Lives Matter Movement.
In fact, discussions of the Black Lives Matter Movement, and of other forms of powerful activism, made itself felt throughout the entire weekend, highlighting the need for raising visibility around the issues Afro-latinos and afro-descendants face not only in the U.S. but also in Latin America and the Caribbean. With the key production support from SaChin Productions and Infinity Squared Productions, among many others, the event was a testament to the collaborative potential of community.
An Awards Ceremony closed Friday’s program and honored key members of the Afro-Latino community. Awardees included Moisés Medrano, Colombia’s Director of Populations at the Ministry of Culture; Ariana Curtis of the Smithsonian; Aysha E. Schomburg, Esq., great-granddaughter of Arturo Schomburg; and Danilo Pérez, Grammy winning Latin jazz pianist and founder of the Panama Jazz Festival.
Late Friday night, the Festival took over several venues across the city (at the Schomburg, SOBs, and C’mon Everybody). Key artists performing at these venues included Afro-Caribbean indie rockers Making Movies; Panamanian darlings Afrodisiaco; Colombian powerhouse El CaribeFunk; and Brazilian Carioca Bass / Baile Funk performer Zuzuka Poderosa, among others.
On Saturday and Sunday, July 9th and 10th, the Festival unfolded at Bed-Stuy’s Restoration Plaza, another important Festival partner, and featured performances by Afro-Latinos and afro-descendant artists from across the Americas. These included New York’s own beats master Nickodemus; Afrobeat DJ legend Rich Medina; the Afro-Panamanian group Los Rakas; the Seattle based funkeiro band Sango; R&B dynamic duo Nina Sky; Tito Puente Jr., son of the legendary mambo Musician; Garifuna music legend Aurelio Martinez; hip-hop master Maluca; underground music queen Princess Nokia and many more.
Cuban DJ Jigüe spinned for the first time in New York City during the weekend; Panamanian DJ Big Nito and beloved Puerto-Lombian DJ Geko Jones hosted the FunDay and Que Bajo Stages on Sunday and Saturday. In fact, DJ Geko released a special EP, Angola Ting, in celebration of the Festival that can be heard here. The festival drew not only artists from Latin America and the Caribbean but artisanal and food vendors from New York to Panama, Colombia and more.
“One love, peace and love,” called out Los Rakas as they closed the festivities on Sunday. That sentiment was felt from the beginning to the end of the Afro-Latino Festival NYC.
THE AFROLATINO FESTIVAL OF NEW YORK celebrates the contributions of Afro-latinos through networking, cultural exchange, artistic showcases, culinary presentations, and education. It serves as an important opportunity for organizations working within Afro-latino communities to raise social awareness and highlight their work. For the past 2 years, the Festival has also commemorated the United Nation’s declared Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024). The Festival’s mission is to provide a positive public space to pay tribute to the African roots of people from Latin America and the Caribbean. As part of that commitment to create positive spaces for the Afro-latino community, this year the Festival begins taking steps to becoming a sustainable festival by 2017. They have partnered with eCo Event Source, an expert in creating sustainable and responsible lifestyle and cultural experiences, to achieve this goal. This year, the Panamanian Tourism Authority also supported the appearance of various artists through the Festival’s new Cultural Ambassadors Xchange initiative.