Summer is finally here and there is a wealth of fabulous events of Afrocentric interest taking place this month. From music festivals to Black expos and more, the Diaspora has got it goin’ on!

July 5-10: Blues Week and the Hayward Russell City Blues Festival (Hayward, Calif.)

  • This week-long celebration is an annual favorite created to highlight the history and influence of blues, jazz and gospel, particularly in the Northern California communities of Hayward-Russell City, Oakland, Richmond, Vallejo and Pittsburg. Each year, fans come from all over the country to enjoy the wealth of lectures, photography exhibits, a car show and, of course, fabulous performances. Some of this year’s entertainers include Chicago bluesman Taildragger, Alabama Mike, Vinnie Flores and Junior Boogie, Caravan of Allstars, Artwork Jamal and Delta Wires, among many others.
  • (510) 836-2227 / (707) 647-3962
  • www.bayareabluessociety.net

July 7-17: Indiana Black Expo/Summer Celebration (Indianapolis, Ind.)

  • This year marks the 41st anniversary of the Indiana Black Expo/Summer Celebration, possibly the largest African-American event in the nation. Founded in Indianapolis in 1970 by a group of religious and civic leaders, the Indiana Black Expo attracts over 300,000 people and has continued to serve as an effective voice and vehicle for the social and economic advancement of African-Americans since its inception.
  • This year’s events include a variety of indoor and outdoor musical celebrations with Biz Markie, the S.O.S. Band, Stephanie Mills, Full Force and Bell Biv Devoe, among others. The All White Affair event will be hosted by Pooch Hall and Wendy Raquel, and there will be a corporate luncheon with Angela Basset, Danny Glover and Cicely Tyson.
  • Among the other popular annual events are the ecumenical and praise and worship services, gospel explosion, a wide variety of youth events including a family fun zone, the youth entrepreneur seminar and the Circle City Classic College Readiness Workshop, just to name a few.
  • (317) 925-2702
  • www.indianablackexpo.com

July 7-17: National Black Arts Festival (Atlanta, Ga.)

  • The National Black Arts Festival is “one of the premier national and international presenters of the art, music and culture of people of African descent” with a mission “to engage, cultivate and educate diverse audiences about the arts and culture of the African Diaspora and provide opportunities for artistic and creative expression.” The founding organization accomplishes this through year-round programming, education and public programs and a summer festival. The summer festival features a variety of activities, including a gala, an international marketplace, children’s education village, classic films, dance, visual arts and artists’ receptions and numerous musical performances by local and international talent.
  • (404) 730-7315
  • http://nbaf.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, is also part of the exhibition.
  • (773) 947-0600
  • www.dusablemuseum.org

July 14-August 1: Caribana in Toronto (Toronto, Canada)

  • Billed as “North America’s largest cultural festival,” Caribana in Toronto attracts attendees from all over Canada, the United States and around the globe to celebrate all things Caribbean. From inspiring music, including steel pan, reggae, calypso, hip-hop, chutney and soca, to expressive visual and performing arts, an exciting parade and delicious Caribbean cuisine, the festival is an annual favorite.
  • (416) 498-5377
  • www.caribanatoronto.com

July 17-23: Reggae SumFest (Montego Bay, Jamaica)

  • “The Heartthrob of Summer,” the Reggae SumFest is a musical celebration with a lineup of some of the most popular international stars. This year’s entertainers include R. Kelly, Beenie Man, Jah Cure, Mavado, the Tanya Sisters, Konshens, Cecile and numerous others. In addition to the Jamaican sun and fabulous beaches of Montego Bay, festivalgoers will also enjoy a dance hall night, two international nights and a beach party.
  • www.reggaesumfest.com
  • July 20-23: 15th annual International African-American Hotel Ownership & Investment Summit & Trade Show (Miami, Fla.)
  • Held at the beautiful Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami, the International African-American Hotel Ownership & Investment Summit & Trade Show offers people the opportunity to meet African-American hotel owners, national leaders and top industry professionals to learn more about opportunities in hotel ownership, investments and supplier diversity. Events encompass workshops, presentations, a scholarship golf tournament, career fair and job expo, awards luncheon and meetings with Caribbean representatives for investment opportunities and incentives.
  • (954) 797-7102
  • www.nabhood.com

July 22-24: Bay Area Black Expo (Oakland, Calif.)

  • The Bay Area Black Expo, billed as “Oakland’s Finest African-American Trade Show,” is the largest African-American tradeshow in Northern California. Featuring a wide range of sponsors and exhibitors that make a positive influence in the Black community, this year’s activities include a college and job fair, an academic career workshop and a variety of other workshops, a health and beauty fair, a Greek step show, chef demonstrations, musical performances and more.
  • (510) 473-7759
  • www.bayareablackexpo.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 lallmanbaldwin@kc.rr.com.