Summer is here and there are so many events going on this month that we’ll just have to traverse the country and enjoy them all! Here are a few to get you started.
Through June 12
Seattle International Film Festival (Seattle, Wash.)
This year marks the 36th anniversary of the Seattle International Film Festival, billed as the largest film festival in the United States. Each year, approximately 150,000 film lovers flock to Seattle to enjoy more than 400 films from over 60 countries and other film-related events.
(206) 324-9996, www.siff.net
Through June 19
“The Test: Tuskegee Airmen Project” (Detroit, Mich.)
Held at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History in Detroit, “The Test: Tuskegee Airmen Project” details the struggles and triumphs of these airmen, the first squadron of Black aviators who were deployed into combat in North Africa during World War II. According to the museum’s website, “‘The Test’ tells an incredible story of men in war struggling to be the best Americans they could be as they struggled against the prejudices of their countrymen.”
(313) 494-5800, www.chwmuseum.org
Through July 17
“Sixteen Pieces” (Chicago, Ill.)
Based on the sacred literature of the Yoruba people of West Africa, “Sixteen Pieces,” presented at the DuSable Museum of African-American History, encompasses 17 paintings created by very talented artists from Trinidad, the United States, Nigeria, Cuba, Ghana, the United Kingdom and Brazil who represent the Yoruba Diaspora.
According to the museum, “These artists were chosen through the Yoruba divination tradition to interpret verses from the ancient wisdom system known as Ifa. Taken together, these works give insight into the Yoruba worldview of life, death, transformation and rebirth. Each painting interprets a specific body or book of literature that deals with the human experience as seen in the Yoruba tradition.”
Sacred artifacts used in the Yoruba divination ritual, with photographs and video of their use as well as summaries of each message and story, are also part of the exhibition.
(773) 947-0600, www.dusablemuseum.org
35th annual Miami-Bahamas Goombay Festival (Coconut Grove, Fla.)
Created as “a celebration of culture expression embracing the legacy of a Bahamian-rooted community known as Coconut Grove,” this festival is one of the area’s signature events, encompassing Junkanoo dance, a parade, delicious Bahamian and American cuisine, a children’s area, golf tournament, gospel service and a great deal more, all with a strong Bahamian and African-American vibe.
(305) 448-9501, www.goombayfestivalcoconutgrove.com
19th annual Capital Jazz Fest (Columbia, Md.)
Celebrating its 19th anniversary this year, the annual Capital Jazz Fest presents some of the best live contemporary jazz and soul music in one place. Held on a picturesque, 40-acre, natural, wooded setting known as Symphony Woods at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md. (between Washington and Baltimore), the festival draws tens of thousands of music lovers from throughout the country.
This year’s lineup includes George Duke, Patti Austin, David Sanborn, Marcus Miller, War, Boney James, Chrisette Michele, Michael Franks, Chuck Brown, Larry Graham and Graham Central Station, Take 6, Oleta Adams, Herbie Hancock and many other venerable artists. In addition to the outstanding vibe, festivalgoers can enjoy artist workshops, culinary stations, arts and crafts booths and late night after-parties.
(301) 780-9300, www.capitaljazz.com/fest
Taste of Times Square (New York, N.Y.)
Held in world-renowned Times Square on the Broadway Plazas between 42nd and 47th streets, the Taste of Times Square is one of New York City’s most popular annual outdoor food festivals. Each year, this event encompasses signature dishes from Times Square’s best restaurants, live entertainment, street performances and a great deal more. Admission is free and each “taste” ticket is only a buck, with most dishes ranging from $1 to $5.
(212) 768-1560, www.timessquarenyc.org
Chicago Blues Festival (Chicago, Ill.)
A celebration of the history and the heritage of the blues, this festival is one of Chicago’s favorite annual events and the world’s largest free blues festival. Memphis Gold, Ben Wiley Payton, Shemekia Copeland, Sanctified Grumblers, Eric Guitar Davis and the Troublemakers, Lonnie Brooks with guests Michael “Iron Man” Burks, Rick Estrin and Ann Rabson, and Rob Blaine’s Big Otis Blues are just a few of the bevy of performers that will delight the crowds this year.
National Black Book Festival (Houston, Texas)
Held at the George R. Brown Convention Center, the National Black Book Festival is the place to enjoy dozens of authors with thousands of fellow reading enthusiasts, all under one roof. Hosted by Cushcity.com, the world’s largest African-American online retailer, this year’s event will include appearances by numerous genres of authors covering everything from urban fiction to Christian, self-help, mystery/thrillers, non-fiction, romance, poetry, beauty and health, biographies and everything in between. Publishers, book clubs, libraries, workshops, seminars, a spoken word poetry slam, book signings and more are also part of the fun.
(800) 340-5454, (281) 444-4265, www.nationalblackbookfestival.com
26th annual Monterey Blues Festival (Monterey, Calif.)
Sometimes referred to as “blues heaven on earth,” the Monterey Blues Festival is widely recognized as one of the premier blues festivals in the country, featuring world-renowned blues artists as well as young aspiring entertainers at the beautiful Monterey Fairgrounds. This year’s performers include the Dazz Band, Mavis Staples, Jeffrey Osborne, Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band, Millie Jackson, Bobby Rush, the Barkays, Peabo Bryson, Freddie Jackson and Ruthie Foster, just to name a few. (831) 394-2652, www.montereyblues.com
Rock and Soul Festival (Cleveland, Ohio)
A celebration of African-American music, the annual Rock and Soul Festival is a Cleveland music fan favorite. Set to coincide with Black Music Month, the festival is chock full of live entertainment from national and local artists celebrating the soulful Black sound. One of this year’s featured events is a tribute to Michael Jackson by Angie Stone and other artists.
(216) 781-ROCK, www.rockhall.com
Lysa Allman-Baldwin writes for numerous online and print publications, including as the cultural travel writer for www.Examiner.com and as a senior travel writer for SoulOfAmerica.com, an Afrocentric travel website. Lysa can be reached at email@example.com.