It’s hotter than July! That means the events, exhibits and more happening all around the country and beyond are turning up the heat as well. Here are just a few to get your hot summer on the move.


Through 2014

The Star-Spangled 200 (Chesapeake Region, Md.)

Taking place throughout this summer and into 2014 in Maryland is the Star-Spangled 200 Chesapeake Campaign, a national bicentennial in Maryland commemorating the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the War of 1812. The celebration started in June 2012 with a “Star-Spangled Sailabration” in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay. Upcoming events take place along the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, encompassing over 560 miles of land and water routes in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia that follow the movements of the British and American troops at that time. These include “Honoring our 1812 Heroes” in Grasonville, Md. (Aug. 3-4); “Attack on St. Michaels” throughout Talbot County, Md. (Aug. 10-11); “Caulk’s Field Remembered at the Inn at Mitchell House” in Fairlee, Vt. (Aug. 30-Sept. 1); and “Battle of North Point” in Dundalk, Md. (Sept. 7-8), among others.


Through Oct. 20

“Things That Cannot Be Seen Any Other Way: The Art of Manuel Mendive” (Los Angeles)

Regarded as one of the foremost contemporary artists in Cuba and the Caribbean, Manuel Mendive “began his career in the early 1960s during a period when dominant Cuban abstract expressionism was waning, which paved new ground by moving beyond the reliance on mainstream Western art forms such as cubism and surrealism.”

Now through Oct. 20, the California African American Museum will present the exhibition, “Things That Cannot Be Seen Any Other Way: The Art of Manuel Mendive.” The exhibition–highlighted by drawings, paintings, sculptures and performances from the early 1960s to the present, giving special focus to discrete themes common across his work, including religion, nationalism and memory–features the 50-year career of this prominent Afro-Cuban artist, and is the first of its kind in the U.S. to focus exclusively on the contemporary visual and material culture of the Afro-Cuban religion, Santeria.

Other events associated with the exhibition include:

* “The Art of Manuel Mendive,” a discussion of his work in the context of the exhibition on May 19.

* “Painting the Orishas,” a workshop on Afro-Cuban religion on June 15.

* During “Afro-Cuban Beats,” museum visitors are invited to participate with their own drums, listen to the lecture or simply watch the performance on July 27.

* “Black and Cuba,” a documentary following minority students who traveled from the Ivy League halls of Harvard University to Cuba will be screened on Oct. 19.

Through Nov. 10

“American People, Black Light: Faith Ringgold’s Paintings of the 1960s” (Washington, D.C.)

Held at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the exhibit–hailed as “an unprecedented artistic exploration of the intersections of race, gender and class made in direct response to social upheaval of the times”–encompasses some 45 works from artist Faith Ringgold’s landmark series “American People” (1963-67) and “Black Light” (1967-71), along with related murals and political posters. Together, they represent the first comprehensive survey of her politically charged paintings of the 1960s, which explores the emotional and often controversial issues at the forefront of the artist’s experience of racial inequality in our country at this historic and tumultuous time.


Through Dec. 29

“Art Speaks: 50 Years Forward” (Birmingham, Ala.)

The work of several of the world’s finest contemporary artists, including Theaster Gates, Hank Willis Thomas, Dawoud Bey, Jefferson Pinder and Shinique Smith, will be among the highlights of an unprecedented series of projects that uses contemporary art to tell the story of the Civil Rights Movement in “Art Speaks: 50 Years Forward.” Presented at the Birmingham Museum Art, the projects are in commemoration of the nearly 50 years that have passed since a bomb blast ripped through the walls of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, killing four innocent little girls as well as two boys in the resulting violence later that day.

* “Etched in Collective History” runs Aug. 18-Nov. 17.

* “Dawoud Bey: The Birmingham Project” runs Sept. 8-Dec. 2.

* “Question Bridge: Black Males” runs Oct. 6-Dec. 29.



July 4

The Red, White and Blues Festival (Pleasanton and San Francisco Bay Area, Calif.)

Held at the Alameda County Fair Grounds and free with admission to the fair, the Bay Area Blues Society presents the Red, White and Blues Festival. Outstanding blues and R&B performers appearing this year include 5 Tempting Men, the Caravan of Allstars, Sargent Tucker, the Love Light Blues Band and others.

707-647-3962, 510-836-2227,

July 6-Sept. 16

The 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.


July 13-14

The 14th annual Hayward Russell City Blues Festival (Hayward, Calif.)

This annual favorite was 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 activities and fabulous performers, the latter this year including Jamie Blues Boy Powell, Sister Monica, Tumble Weed, Alvon Johnson, Ron Thompson and Mississippi blues man Johnny Rawls, just to name a few.

510-836-2227, 707-647-3962,

July 21-27

Reggae SumFest (Montego Bay, Jamaica)

Billed as “The Greatest Reggae Show on Earth,” Reggae SumFest is a musical celebration with a lineup of some of the most popular international stars. This year’s entertainers include Beenie Man, Baby Tash, Beres Hammond, Damian Marley, Kip Rich, Di and numerous others. In addition to the Jamaican sun and fabulous beaches of Montego Bay, festivalgoers will also enjoy a dance hall night, international nights and a beach party.


Lysa Allman-Baldwin writes for numerous online and print publications, including as the cultural travel writer for and as a senior travel writer for, an Afrocentric travel website.