Afro-Latino Festival Celebrates Official Decade For People Of African Descent

The opening reception of Afro-Latino Festival 2015 will be etched in the minds of many for a long time to come.

Notable artists and key figures of the Afro-Latino community gathered on Friday (July 10) to celebrate Afrolatinidad, an oft-overlooked thread intricately woven into Latino culture. The star-studded gala was held in Madiba Harlem at MIST and featured live performances by local and international acts such as Los Hacheros, Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats, Conjunto Nuevo Milenio, Kalunga Neg Mawon, DJ Beto and Cuban songstress Danay Suarez.

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Among those also in attendance were Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and members of the band Cúltura Profética, Kafu Banton, Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto and Les Nubians, to name a few. The likes of New York Times Bureau Chief for Mexico, Randal Archibold; Founder and Director of the Caribbean Cultural Center and African Diaspora Institute, Dr. Marta Moreno Vega; prize-winning poet Willie Perdomo; and Tech Journalist/CEO, Janel Martinez were honored for their achievements and contributions to the Afro-Latino community.

“I recognize the valued contributions that Afro-Latinos have made in our civil society, and how their presence has really been somewhat muted, has not been given the recognition and acknowledgment for all that they have contributed throughout our civil society,” said Clarke before a boisterous audience. “Afro-Latinos have been out front and a part of making things happen […] It is very important, particularly given where we are in our civil society, that we continue to support efforts like these.”

The colorful evening wrapped with the official proclamation by the New York State Assembly observing the U.N. International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), an important achievement and a momentous start to the decade for the city of New York.

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Festivities continued on Saturday (July 11) with panels that explored the intersection of Afrolatinidad at Cubana Social and a screening of the film Afrolatinos TV: The Untaught Story at the Williamsburg Music Center. Later that evening, The Wick in Bushwick hosted a dance party with local favorites and tropical bass DJs, Que Bajo?!. On Sunday (July 12), la fiesta concluded at Bed-Stuy’s Restoration Plaza with dance workshops, art exhibitions and musical performances by Les Nubians, Kafu Banton, Cultura Profética and many more.