Join the North Carolina Museum of History for the 16th Annual African American Cultural Celebration, the state’s kickoff event to Black History Month, which begins in February. This festive and educational event for all ages will take place Saturday, January 28, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in downtown Raleigh. Named a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society three years in a row, the festival will feature over 75 musicians, storytellers, dancers, chefs, historians, playwrights, authors, artists, reenactors, and more. Admission and parking are free.
The past is interwoven with the present at the start of the festival, as the Tryon Palace Jonkonnu Drummers, an old West Indies tradition, pave the way, followed shortly after by their younger counterpart, A Drummer’s World Drumline. Michelle Lanier, Director of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission (AAHC) and Dr. Valerie Ann Johnson, AAHC Chair and Professor at Bennett College, will then welcome everyone to the festival to officially kick it off.
Excitement builds throughout the day as dancers, singers, storytellers and other presenters fill the museum’s lobby, third floor and auditorium. For example, visitors will hear the journey of African American music history through song by Sandra Dubose, known by many as “the Black Beauty Queen of Self-Esteem.” Award-winning journalist Bridgette Lacy will enlighten audience members on the tradition of Southern food on Sundays. There will be plenty of hands-on activities for children, such as a gallery hunt (with a prize as incentive), a toy-making station, a cowrie shell necklace-making activity and so much more. Food will be available from the museum’s own Pharaoh’s, so enjoy lunch and stay awhile.
“Each year, the planning committee says, “We can’t top this year’s event!’ and each year, the event just gets bigger and better,” says Emily Grant, coordinator of the festival. “The celebration has grown over the years from a small afternoon event with a few hundred people, to a daylong event serving as the state-wide kickoff to Black History Month with thousands in attendance. This year’s theme is The Shoulders We Stand On—a time to reflect, honor and celebrate where we’ve been, who we are now and where we are going.”
During the day, take advantage of firsthand opportunities to learn about the state’s African American culture, past and present. Here’s a sampling of what you can experience:
For a full schedule of all performances and presentations, visit NCMOH-programs.com or call 919-807-7900.