Posts tagged with "African diaspora"

Ballerina by Mina Tocalini for use by 360 Magazine

Bombazo Caribbean Skirts Featured at New York Fashion Week

By: Javier Pedroza 

Milteri Tucker Concepción is a busy and multi-talented Afro Boricua who holds degrees in Biology, Chemistry and a master’s in Dance Education. She is an author, a mother and was casted in Lin Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights the movie. As we approach #NYFW2021, Milteri puts on another hat, as designer.

Milteri is the founder of BOMBAZO and the artistic director of Bombazo Dance Co. The Puerto Rican-Bronx based non-profit dance organization’s focus is to educate, advocate, preserve and perform Bomba Puertorriqueña. As an author, educator and master Bomba dancer, she lectures across the United States and the world. I sat with Milteri and we spoke about Bomba, fashion and Puerto Rico.

Milteri, tell our readers, who is Milteri Tucker Concepción? 

Well, I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and grew up with a passion for dance since I was 5 years old. I  recall dancing in “la Sala”(the living room) with three of the most influential women in my life: my grandmother, mother and aunt. As part of my upbringing I remember dancing, planting and assisting my elders in the kitchen. I also vividly recall shopping for fabrics with my aunt and watching my grandmother Abuela Teresa, warmly referred to as “Mama” sewing. My aunt “Titi” Maria Concepción was a designer who attended FIT and designed clothes for top actors in Puerto Rico. I was blessed to have been raised in a household full of  love, and love for my culture!

As a teenager, I studied dance in La Escuela de Bellas Artes in Ponce, PR. At 17, [I] moved to NYC to pursue careers in dance and science. In 2006, I graduated with a dual major of Dance and Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Hunter College. I currently hold a masters degree in Dance Education from NYU Steinhardt. Today I am a renowned Bomba master dancer, choreographer, scholar, dance educator and author. [I wrote] the first bilingual Bomba children’s book, titled “Bomba Puertorriqueña” and illustrated by Boricua artist, Mia Roman.

I’ve had the privilege to perform in multiple venues across NYC and the world – from the prestigious Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, City Center, Summerstage, Pregones Theater, BAAD, The Latin Billboards Awards, dancing for Don Omar with choreography by Maria Torres O’Connor, to amazing community centers.

I am a cultural warrior (guerrera cultural) who safeguards our traditions of Bomba Puertorriquenas, via [my] 501c3 non-profit dance organization: Bombazo Dance Co, Inc and international brand of Caribbean dance skirts: Bombazo Wear-Bomba & Caribbean Dance Skirts®. I was recently  featured in Lin Manuel Miranda’s movie, In The Heights, as the Bomba representation.

How was your experience filming ‘In the Heights’?

Being invited to dance Bomba for In the Heights was a surreal experience and a dream come true! It was an honor to represent our African heritage through our traditional dances. However, one of my favorite memories came after the movie premiered…. I had the opportunity to open the 2021 Virtual National Puerto Rican Day Parade in NYC, where Lin and I danced Bomba together.

What is the history of Bomba?

Bomba is Puerto Rico’s oldest musical genre, dating back to the 17th century and created by the African enslaved and free people of color from the Caribbean. This was one of the ways they communicated in our coastal sugarcane and coffee plantations.  It is a secular practice, where the community gathers to sing, dance and drum.

Why did you create Bombazo Dance Company?

I founded Bombazo Dance Company to show the world that Puerto Rico has rich African ancestry, and that our traditions are very much alive. As a Bomba dance company, we communicate through dance and drumming. [This is] reflected in our traditional folk art dancers. It is also important to create a safe space to fuse Bomba with other forms of dance – such as ballet, contemporary, social dances and dances of the African and Caribbean diaspora.

What inspired you to create Bombazo dance wear? 

At the same time I started Bombazo Dance Company, I was teaching Bomba classes to the community and needed skirts. Believe it or not, it was hard to find a seamstress who could make Caribbean skirts or a location to purchase them. I wanted to create skirts that fit all Caribbean dance styles, because I am that dancer. And voilà – Bombazo Wear Bomba Caribbean Skirts was born! My mother, Dr. Margarita Concepción, and I are the CEOs and we sew the [skirts] too. Our skirts are handmade, custom[ized] and tailored to each client. A part of the funds go to aid families affected by the earthquakes in Southern Puerto Rico.

How does it feel to be invited to NYFW 2021 / Harlem Fashion Week?

It is an honor to have been invited to showcase for a second time in HFM! The organizers are truly showcasing diversity within their shows and providing  opportunities for designers of color to present their designs to the world. It’s important to me – as a woman of color, a Latina and AfroBoricua – [that] they understand my vision of dance as fashion. And my skirts have fashion written all over them!

Tell us about your upcoming collection “Resistencia y Libertá!” (Resistance and Freedom)

I am the creator of the Puerto Rican Bomba Flag Skirt®. A flag; its colors, represents a collective orgullo – pride for its people. Our flag was conceived and designed here in NYC. It was prohibited to fly The Puerto Rican flag in both Puerto Rico and New York at one time. Its pride is back after Hurricane Maria, [now] you see our colors in every town’s building and rinconcito (corner) in both Puerto Rico and the diaspora! Therefore, my new collection for 2021 is titled: “Resistencia y Libertá!” Where each skirt in the collection represents a social cause affecting Puerto Rico – such as the cultural resistencia by the people, No al Feminicidio, Boricua hasta en la Luna, Afroboricuaness, LGBTQ+ representation and support in the Bomba Community, ect. It is important to note that this is a brand and line designed and sewn by a Bomba dancer, a person from the community. These are skirts [are designed] with a mission. Part of the funds go to help families affected by the earthquakes in the South of Puerto Rico and organizations/community ensembles continuing the labor of safeguarding Bomba traditions in the island.

Any advice for the youth who want to connect and immerse themselves with their African roots and Culture?

Learn about all parts of you! That makes you unique and special. Speak to your elders: abuelas, abuelos, tias, tios and elders from your community. They have a lot of wisdom and years of experience you can learn from. Always connect to your culture, to your African roots! There is an African proverb I love : “Sankofa– in order to move forward you must know your past!” Know who you are, where you come from, so that you can pass the knowledge to your next generation! Ubuntu! (an African Proverb [that] means “I am because we ALL are!”)

For more information and to view images, please visit HERE.

What's Your Black? by Nyame Brown for use by 360 Magazine

Nyame Brown Featured at Oakland Museum of California

Nyame Brown Large-scale Blackboard Painting What’s Your Black? in Mothership: Voyage Into Afrofuturism at the Oakland Museum of California

Exhibition Opening Saturday, August 7, 2021

Nyame Brown will be featured in Mothership: Voyage Into Afrofuturism at the Oakland Museum of California, opening August 7, 2021 and on view through February 27, 2022. The exhibition explores Afrofuturism as a strategy that imagines the world through a Black cultural lens and strives for a more just present and future. Curated by OMCA Curator Rhonda Pagnozzi and Consulting Curator Essence Harden, the exhibition celebrates Black imagination and includes the work of over 50 artists—including Wangechi MutuDavid Huffman, and Chelle Barbour, among others—historians, musicians, and collaborators. The show highlights the key role that the fantasy and science fiction of Afrofuturism has, as a strategy for Black community building by envisioning the African Diaspora and Black culture as central in a technically advanced and culturally rich civilization.

Brown—an Afrofuturist installation artist working in the media of painting, drawing, cut paper, blackboards, augmented reality, gaming, and fashion—addresses the Black imagination as a site for new ways to perceive the Diaspora as trans-Atlantic, psychic, and imagined—not just through unity and similarity, but by looking at the dynamics of difference. What’s Your Black?, part of his larger series of blackboard paintings, is envisioned as a tool to combat racial oppression, using a cultural production of the Black community to offer a space to create a new Black mythology. Building narratives like scaffolding around art historical references, hip hop, and personal history, he draws on these precedents as a fluid source of reference, rather than a fixed and linear projection. Reimagining contemporary notions of Blackness in visual culture, he challenges traditional representation and subverts it for a richer surreal language found in folklore and African American hyperbole. His depictions provide different ways to access African American culture through an approach that seeks social transformation and community revolution.

About Nyame Brown

Nyame Oulynji Brown received his BFA from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, and MFA from Yale School of Art and Architecture. He has been the recipient of the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Award, and the Richard Dreihaus Foundation Individual Artist Award, as well as a site-specific public commission for the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation, for which he executed a double portrait of Malcolm X and the artist Jack Whitten. His participation in Theaster Gates’ Black Artist Retreat in Chicago was followed by residencies at the Headlands Center for the Arts (for work on his project The Mapping of Aaron, a model for radical Blackness), Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, and the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans. Brown was honored with a solo exhibition at The Museum of the African Diaspora, and has held solo exhibitions across the U.S., notably at the Hearst Museum at St. Mary’s College (John Henry’s adventures in a Post Black world) and the West Virginia University Art Museum. He has actively participated in group exhibitions in a variety of spaces in California, Illinois, Michigan and New York, and his work has been curated for inclusion at the Museum of Harlem, NY, and the Prizm Art Fair at the Mana Contemporary in Miami. He also took part with Carrie Mae Weems in the symposium The Interrogation of Forms: The Changing Culture in America at The Armory in New York. Brown was selected as the 2020 Tosa Studio Award recipient and was awarded a studio at Minnesota Street Project through 2021.

Town & Country’s 8th Philanthropy Summit – Pharrell Williams × José Andrés

The 8th annual Town & Country Philanthropy Summit kicked off today with an amazing conversation between Pharrell Williams and José Andrés, moderated by Soledad O’Brien.

See below for highlights from the panel as well as a link to view the interview in its entirety:

Pharrell Williams on how he thinks about philanthropy and what his goals are: 

“When we think about the African diaspora and people of color and what people who are deemed ‘minorities’ – which we are actually not—but that’s just the saying. There are three pillars that affect us the most—disproportionate access to education, disproportionate access to healthcare, and also disproportionate access to legislation. I think the first two are the ones that I want to focus on because they’re the ones that I feel like I can, through my resources and even my likenesses whenever needed, that I can actually make a difference in education and healthcare. These are the things that hurt us the most.”

José Andrés on why he focuses on food insecurity:

“I am one more cook in the universe of people that feed people in America or around the world. But people like me, we only feed the few. I am in the power, when you began thinking, we can also be a part of feeding the many. And where we can join forces to the many around America, and around many places in the world, in the most difficult moments, to be able to bring solutions. For me, food is my way of doing it, but what we do is only a drop of water in an ocean of empathy. It requires a lot of props of empathy to make things happen. Obviously what I do is more focused on emergencies, I don’t like to see people in mayhem; people who, already in the good times forgotten, that are voiceless, that nobody takes care of. It’s even worse when a hurricane, an earthquake, an explosion of fire, a pandemic, hits their communities even further. That’s the moment that I feel the urgency of now being yesterday, and I love to bring my community and try to be nice to as many people as we can in these moments of mayhem. At the end of the day, one plate of food at a time won’t solve every problem but at least you buy time. And you give hope to people who need it the most.”

Pharrell on how he and Jose met and joined forces: 

“Catherine Kimmel – the great connector – took me to an event. Here’s a guy that you really need to meet because, like you, he takes what it is he does and puts it to better usage and thinks about others… [at an event in New York] I was so impressed because there were so many chefs there but this guy – it was different. Yes, he’s a chef and he’s all about his ingredients and recipes, but his greatest meal was his operation and people and his ability to galvanize. It was really apparent that everyone was centered around him and all he wanted to do was feed people and bring people together and help people see that through our differences and our challenges are actually a lot of solutions and we can make the world a better place and I was really blown away… Then we met and we realized there were a lot of things he was doing that I could be instrumental in helping him.”

José on meeting Pharrell and what attracted him to Pharrell:

“I go and meet Pharrell and he’s even better, he’s the better half. What you get is a good vibe – it’s very difficult to describe. You know, you read about people, NBA players, amazing musicians and I’m not only looking for the amazing things they do, which I love, but what’s behind. When you see that behind is something very powerful that they’re putting at the service of others – their power, their money, their contacts but something even more powerful is their brain connecting with their empathy within their hearts… We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without people like them. Pharrell knows and more importantly loves his community. We were able to do it in Virginia Beach and be there because Pharrell opened to us the doors of being that community without being foreigners. We were able to partner with local people, with local restaurants.”

José on how his family impacted his values and his metaphor on life:

“My mom and dad always believed in longer tables, not higher ones. The table will always be ready for whoever showed up… My father would put me in charge of making the fire. I did that since I was young, and I would become very good at making the fire. But my father was very particular, and he would never let me near the chicken… [he would say] ‘My son I know you wanted to do the cooking, but actually doing the fire and controlling the fire is the most important thing, everyone wants to do the cooking without understand the fire. My son you already have the biggest gift. Control the fire, master the fire, and then you can do any cooking you want.’ (I don’t know if my father told me that story with that idea or I’m making it more romantic along the way as the years pass by). My father was giving me a mantra for life itself: find your fire, control your fire, master your fire, and then you can do any cooking you want in your life.”

Pharrell on his foundation YELLOW:

“For us, we want to even the odds. I know that I was a very lucky person who benefitted from my teachers seeing something in me. They didn’t know what they were telling me or which way the way to go but they kept telling me to keep going. I think that had a profound effect on me because essentially education is the toolbox that every human being is going to need out in the world just to function… What we wanted to do is look at a curriculum that could assess these children and figure out how they comprehend information best. Then eventually make a curriculum that is sensory based and not sensory biased. If you learn differently than how the curriculum is being taught, then automatically you’re deemed as remedial… with the YELLOW hub, it’s the space where kids can learn based on their way they process their information.”

Pharrell on the education system:

“I love public school teachers and you know, love the unions as well, but the education the educational system is antiquated. I mean just ask your favorite Fortune 500 CEO – they might not be the best, they might not be well read, but that does not stop their genius. And this is what we want. We want to make sure that we reach every child by properly assessing their learning potential and comprehension preferences, and making sure that they have a curriculum that is based for them. Sensory bias is an issue, but sensory based learning special educational systems is the future. That’s how every child slip through the cracks and we get to eventually even the odds.”

José on how the pandemic affected and influenced his philanthropy:

“I think this year has changed all of us profoundly… Fundamentally has changed me. First, obviously take care of your family. I tried to be a father who took care of his daughters and my wife and trying to keep them safe. Every mother and father tried to do that. But then I began thinking that to take care of my daughters, it’s not putting them behind walls, to take care of my daughters, is bringing down those walls and trying to work as hard to provide for the other daughters and sons of other people I don’t know that they are trying to achieve the same for their children. The way I’m going to keep my daughters safer is not behind walls but with longer tables, where I work as hard to provide for my daughters as I’m going to work to provide for the daughters I don’t know. Fundamentally this is what changed me.”

José on what people get wrong about philanthropy:

“Robert Egger, my favorite food fighter, he said that it seems philanthropy is usually about the redemption of the giver, when philanthropy essentially needs to be about the liberation of the receiver. It’s nothing wrong to give and donate time or money or your brain and feel good about it, but fundamentally in this pandemic, I learned that to give, it’s not good enough, that we must do good, yes, but we must do smart good.”

Pharrell on the changes he has noticed this year:

“Empathy is at an all-time low. It’s not where it needs to be. There’s a lot of sympathy and pity, but there’s not empathy. And we need more of that, we need more empathy, we need more humility, we need more gratitude. I think the pandemic, for me, has taken me to that place where that’s the only thing I can think about.”

View the summit here.

The T&C Summit continues tomorrow (June 22, 2021 @ 12:30-1:30 PM EDT) with a panel between the power media couple Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue. Register directly here.

TV2 illustration by Rita Azar for 360 Magazine

The Africa Channel Programming Expansion

The Africa Channel is Now Available to Millions More Xfinity TV Customers

Expansion Furthers Ongoing Commitment from Comcast to Increase Access to Best-in-Class Black Programming 

The Africa Channel (TAC), the longest running Independent, minority owned, media company focused on presenting pan-African content to global audiences, announced today that its programming, which includes scripted and unscripted series, films, documentaries, news and information programs, is now available to millions more Xfinity TV customers, in 60 new markets on Channel 1629, and also via the Xfinity Stream app. Xfinity customers with X1 can also say “The Africa Channel” into their Xfinity Voice Remote to access the channel. Sample content from The Africa Channel will also be featured, at no additional cost, on the newly-launched Black Experience on Xfinity Channel.

Launched in 2005, The Africa Channel’s mission is to introduce contemporary stories of Africa and the African diaspora to American audiences while presenting a more inclusive perspective on Black entertainment. The channel is a showcase for outstanding English language television series, feature films, documentaries and news about Africa and the global African Diaspora. It aspires to build bridges between cultures while reinforcing positive narratives of Africa through diverse content and programming.

“We have enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Comcast and are delighted to renew and expand our partnership with Comcast by reaching even more key markets across the US,” said Narendra Reddy, Executive Vice President and General Manager of The Africa Channel. “We feel that showcasing diverse content through the prism of contemporary Africa plays a seminal role in building cultural bridges, while connecting Black Americans to their heritage. We are particularly excited to partner with Comcast in their commitment to diversity through their Black Experience on Xfinity initiative.”

Through the programming and partnership with Comcast The Africa Channel aims to educate and connect all Black Americans to their heritage, and to specifically serve a fast-growing Black immigrant population who currently represent over 20% of the Black population in the US. The majority of TAC’s content has never been seen in North America. Now, with the network’s expanded distribution on Xfinity, millions of new viewers will be able to access this vast catalog of culturally relevant content.

“We’re thrilled to bring The Africa Channel’s unique, informative, and high-quality programming about African culture to an even larger audience than ever before,” added Keesha Boyd, Executive Director, Multicultural Video & Entertainment, Xfinity Consumer Services. “Our mission is to continue to amplify Black voices and stories by providing a platform for the next generation of Black storytellers. Comcast currently offers its customers access to more than 100 independent networks targeted to deliver content that centers culturally diverse audiences, and The Africa Channel is an integral part of this content offering.”
More viewers than ever before will be able to catch TAC’s newest slate of programming including:

  • World Wide Nate – This destination adventure series follows larger-than-life Chicago native Nate Fluellen, who fears nothing as he explores Africa’s abundance of death-defying thrills. Nate proves to be an excellent example for other intrepid African Americans seeking adventure and a connection to the continent that created today’s African American population’s robust ancestors. Airs weeknights at 9:00pm Eastern.
  • Amah Knows Best – This show is driven by platinum-selling South African rapper; iFani, who travels to China to learn how to cook from Chinese grandmothers. The adventure is also a cultural learning experience, not just for iFani but also for the Chinese people who unquestioningly embrace their unique visitor. Airs weeknights at 9:30pm Eastern.
  • Lockdown – Viewers experience a different kind of “lockdown” in this new prison drama. Set in a fictional high security female prison, the stories of these inmates reveal the paths which landed them behind bars. The gritty prison drama features an all-female cast with African American actress Tichina Arnold (Everybody Hates Chris) joining the line-up in Season 3. Airs Wednesdays at 10:00pm Eastern.

Xfinity delivers the best entertainment to customers, including thousands of hours of diverse programming from more than 100 networks and streaming services, via its X1platform. X1 delivers delivers the most comprehensive library of entertainment on one voice-controlled platform­–aggregating live TV, On Demand, and popular streaming apps from a growing collection of networks and streaming services. The expansion of The Africa Channel is part of an ongoing commitment from Comcast to increase access to best-in-class Black programming by providing a platform for the next generation of Black storytellers.

Please visit The Africa Channel’s website for more information on how to watch TAC and follow TAC on YouTubeFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

About The Africa Channel  

The Africa Channel and its production arm, TAC Studios, is a showcase for the African continent’s most outstanding English-language television series, specials, documentaries, feature films, music, biographies and cultural and historical content. The channel’s mission is to open a daily window into modern African life, and in the process, help demystify Africa for viewers globally. The Africa Channel with offices in Los Angeles and Johannesburg, South Africa is available in North America and the Caribbean on cable systems such as Comcast, Charter/Spectrum, Rogers Ignite and Bell Fibe (Canada), and the Caribbean Cable Cooperative.

About Comcast Corporation

Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company that connects people to moments that matter. We are principally focused on broadband, aggregation, and streaming with over 56 million customer relationships across the United States and Europe. We deliver broadband, wireless, and video through our Xfinity, Comcast Business, and Sky brands; create, distribute, and stream leading entertainment, sports, and news through Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, Universal Studio Group, Sky Studios, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, multiple cable networks, Peacock, NBCUniversal News Group, NBC Sports, Sky News, and Sky Sports; and provide memorable experiences at Universal Parks and Resorts in the United States and Asia. Visit Comcast’s website for more information.

Cardi B Illustration for 360 Mag

21 in 21

21 Afro-Latinxs to celebrate in 2021 and beyond! 

By: Javier Pedroza

It’s Black History Month, which gives the planet time to reflect on how African American achievements have contributed to US history and how African achievements have contributed to the world. Although, don’t forget it is important to highlight and celebrate Black accomplishments year around. Due to the current global climate, it’s important to become more knowledgeable and celebrate the Afro-Latinx population for its contributions to US history and the world.

After 2020, it is an especially important time to embolden the community to take part in the celebration of Black culture. This year, the Black History Month theme is “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity” which explores the African diaspora and their contributions.

To really understand the African diaspora it is essential to acknowledge that there were more African slaves to Latin America than to the United States. “There were 11.2 million Africans who came to the New World in the slave trade and of that 11.2 million, only 450,000 came to the United States,” Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. said in a discussion about his PBS documentary series Black In Latin America. He added, “The real black experience, in terms of numbers, is all throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.”

Today, Latinx should understand their roots, which have an undoubtedly long history of African heritage. Hispanics & Latinx identities are beautifully complex, multifaceted and multidimensional. A Pew Research Center survey of Latinx, adults shows that one-quarter of all U.S. Latinx self-identify as Afro-Latinx, Afro-Caribbean, or of African descent with roots in Latin America. This is the first time a nationally representative survey in the U.S. has asked the Latinx population directly whether they considered themselves Afro-Latinx.

Many Latinos identify with their ancestral countries of origin – Puerto Rico, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Cuba, Peru, the Dominican Republic, etc. Others may also identify with their Indigenous roots and all of these experiences made contributions to Black History. A goal to have moving forward is to celebrate global Black History and continue to recognize the contributions African-Americans have made to the world, including achievements made by Afro-Latinxs & Afro-Indigenous people. It’s imperative for Latinxs to acknowledge their African & Indigenous heritage given that history and cultures are inextricably linked to slave trade in the Americas, genocide and the African Diaspora. 

Here’s a growing list of amazing Afro-Latino (a,x) heroes and their contributions. 

1. Arturo Alfonso Schomburg

(January 24, 1874 – June 10, 1938)

Place of birth: Santurce, Puerto Rico 

Contributions: Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, born to a Black mother and father of German descent, was a historian. Mr. Schomburg is considered to be one of the Fathers of Black History & a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Schomburg’s lifework consisted of research and preservation—work that would lead him to become one of the world’s premier collectors of Black literature, slave narratives, artwork, and diasporic materials. 

2. Dr. Marta Moreno-Vega 

(January 3, 1942)

Place of birth: East Harlem, New York

Contributions: Dr. Marta Moreno-Vega is an Afro-Boricua who established the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI). Dr. Moreno Vega has been an advocate for cultural equity, cultural studies and education. As the second director of El Museo del Barrio, one of the founders of the Association of Hispanic Arts, Network of Centers of Color and the Roundtable of Institutions of Color, Dr. Moreno Vega has contributed to assuring that the contributions of African and African descendants are integral to the lives of civil society in the Americas. 

3. Celia Cruz 

(October 21, 1925 – July 16, 2003)

Place of birth: Havana, Cuba

Contributions: Celia Cruz was a singer & recording artist born and raised in Havana, Cuba. She was one of the most iconic artists of the 20th century. Her many honors included three Grammy Awards and four Latin Grammys for recordings such as Ritmo en el corazón (1988; with Ray Barretto) and Siempre viviré (2000).

4. Dr. José Celso Barbosa 

(July 27, 1857 – September 21, 1921)

Place of birth: Bayamón, Puerto Rico 

Contributions: Dr. José Celso Barbosa was a Physician, Sociologist and Politician.  Known as the father of the Statehood for Puerto Rico movement, Barbosa was the first Puerto Rican, and one of the first persons of African descent to earn a medical degree in the United States.

5. Ruth Fernández (Ruth Noemi Fernández Cortada) 

(May 23, 1919 – January 9, 2012)

Place of birth: Ponce, Puerto Rico

Contributions: Ruth Fernández, “El Alma de Puerto Rico Hecha Canción” (“The Soul of Puerto Rico Turned Song”) was a Puerto Rican contralto, actress, and a member of the Puerto Rican Senate. She was the first and only singer ever elected to the Senate of Puerto Rico. She was considered by many to be the Rosa Parks of Puerto Rico when she refused to enter the Vanderbilt Hotel in San Juan through its back entrance because she was a woman of color. The owners of the hotel stated that blacks had to enter through the rear of the building, but during one evening where she was set to perform at the hotel’s ballroom, she marched into the hotel via its front entrance. After this event, the hotel changed its policy.

6. Cardi B (Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar)

(October 11, 1992)

Place of birth: Manhattan, New York

Contributions: Afro-Latina Cardi B is a Dominican & Trinidadian rapper, songwriter, and actress raised in the Bronx, New York. Recognized by Forbes as one of the most influential female rappers of all time, Cardi B is known for her aggressive flow and candid lyrics, which have received widespread media coverage. She is the highest certified female rapper of all time on the RIAA’s Top Artists (Digital Singles) ranking, also appearing among the ten highest-certified female artists and having the two top-certified songs by a female rap artist.

She is the only female rapper with multiple billion-streams on Spotify and became the first artist to top the inaugural Billboard Global 200. Her accolades include a Grammy Award, eight Billboard Music Awards, five Guinness World Records, five American Music Awards, eleven BET Hip Hop Awards and two ASCAP Songwriter of the Year awards. In 2018 Time magazine included her on their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and in 2020, Billboard honored her as Woman of the Year. 

7. Rosa Alicia Clemente 

(April 18, 1972)

Place of birth: Bronx, New York

Contributions: Afro-Boricua Rosa Alicia Clemente is the 2008 United States Vice-Presidential Candidate, Producer, Journalist, Political Commentator & Scholar-Activist. Rosa is a graduate of the University of Albany and Cornell University. She is currently a doctoral student in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies of University of Massachusetts Amherst. 

8. Congressman Ritchie John Torres 

(March 12, 1988)

Place of birth: Bronx, New York

Contributions: Ritchie Torres is an Afro-Boricua politician who is a member of the Democratic party. He is the US representative for New York’s 15th congressional district. Torres was the first openly gay candidate to be elected to legislative office in the Bronx, and the youngest member of the city council. Torres won the November 2020 general election and assumed office on January 3, 2021. This makes him one of the first openly gay Black men elected to Congress (along with Mondaire Jones). This also made Torres the first openly gay Afro Latino elected to Congress. As such, he is one of the nine co-chairs of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus in the 117th United States Congress. 

9. Zoe Saldana (Zoë Yadira Saldaña Nazario) *Trending Now

(June 19, 1978)

Place of birth: Passaic, New Jersey

Contributions: Zoe Saldaña is of mixed ethnic heritage, with her mother being of Puerto Rican descent and her father hailing from the Dominican Republic. Zoe is the only performer to get star billing in more than one movie that grossed over $2 billion worldwide with Avatar and Avengers: Infinity War. 

10. Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos 

(September 12, 1891 – April 21, 1965)

Place of birth: Ponce, Puerto Rico 

Contributions: Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos was a Puerto Rican attorney, social activist, nationalist and the son of a mixed-race mother who was the daughter of slaves and a Basque father from a farming and landowning family. The latter not only provided no financial support but also did not legally recognize his son until he was 19, and Albizu Campos grew up in poverty. In 1912 he was awarded a scholarship to study chemistry and engineering at the University of Vermont. He transferred a year later to Harvard University, majoring in chemistry and literature and becoming the first Puerto Rican Harvard graduate. Many people in Puerto Rico consider Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos the father of the Puerto Rican Independence Movement. 

11. Carmelo Kyam Anthony

(May 29, 1984)

Place of birth: Brooklyn, New York

Contributions: Carmelo Anthony is an Afro-Latino professional basketball player. He has been named an NBA All-Star ten times and an All-NBA Team member six-time Anthony also played in the 2016 Olympic Games, his fourth straight stint in the Olympics, which was a record for a US male basketball player, breaking the old record of having played in three Olympiads he shared with James and Robinson. He has celebrated his roots by giving back to Puerto Rico, remodeling basketball courts in a poor neighborhood 3 years in a row now. 

12. La La Anthony (Alani Nicole Vázquez) 

(June 25, 1981)

Place of birth: Brooklyn, New York

Contributions: La La Anthony is an Afro-Puerto Rican actress, host, producer and New York Times best-selling author. La La Anthony has supported charities such as the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Gabrielle’s, Angel Foundation, GLAAD and Voto Latino. 

13. Rosie Perez (Rosa María Perez) 

(September 6, 1964)

Place of birth: Brooklyn, New York

Contributions: Rosie Perez is an Afro-Latina actress, choreographer and community activist. Rosie was appointed to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS by President Barack Obama in 2010. Among many honors, Rosie was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Fearless as well as three Emmy Awards for her work as a choreographer on In Living Color (1990–1994).

Perez has also performed in stage plays on Broadway, such as The Ritz, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, and Fish in the Dark. In addition, she was a co-host on the ABC talk show The View during the series’ 18th season. 

14. MJ Rodriguez (Michaela Antonia Jaé Rodriguez) 

(January 7, 1991)

Place of birth: Newark, New Jersey

Contributions: MJ Rodriguez is an African American and Puerto Rican actress who is among the largest cast of transgender actresses on the show Pose. MJ made history by becoming the first Trans woman to ever sign a beauty deal with Olay Body. MJ was awarded the Hispanic Heritage Special Trailblazer Award at the 31st Hispanic Heritage Awards in Washington D.C. 

15. Ramon E. Contreras 

(22-years-old)

Place of birth: Brooklyn, New York

Contributions: Ramon Contreras is a young political activist, advisor and filmmaker who is changing the nature of civic engagement by championing and encouraging minorities to participate in politics. Ramon is a fierce gun control enthusiast and founded YouthOverGuns, a platform advocating for change in underserved communities of color. He led a protest of thousands across the Brooklyn Bridge and is the National Strategist for the nation-wide organization, March for Our Lives. 

16. Laith Ashley De La Cruz 

(July 6, 1989)

Place of birth: Harlem, New York

Contributions:  Laith Ashley is a model, actor, singer-songwriter and entertainer of Dominican descent. He was the first transgender man to be featured in a Diesel campaign. Laith has been on the cover of countless magazines and has had featured stories published on countless others all around the world; ie, British GQ.

Laith was on the cast of the reality TV series, “Strut,” executive produced by Whoopi Goldberg, and raised the heart rates of viewers in his appearance on hit series, “Pose,” on FX. Ashley is also an activist, particularly in transgender issues. He worked with FLUX, a division of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which is dedicated to raising awareness and providing support to trans and gender-nonconforming people. 

17. Dianne Morales 

(June 21, 1967)

Place of birth: Brooklyn, New York 

Contributions: Double Ivy League graduate Dianne Morales is an Afro-Boricua with degrees from Harvard University and Columbia University. Dianne is the former CEO of several multi-million dollar social service nonprofits and is also the first Latina / Afro-Latina candidate for New York City Mayor. 

18. Johnny Pacheco 

(March 25, 1935 – February 15, 2021)

Place of birth: Santiago De Los Caballeros, Dominican Republic

Contributions: Johnny Pacheco was one of the most influential artists of Latin music. He was one of the creators of The Fania All-Stars and Fania Record (#latinmotown), the most successful record label in the history of Latin music. 

19. Aida Rodriguez (Aida Margarita Parada Rodriguez) 

(August 29, 1977)

Place of birth: Boston, Massachusetts

Contributions: Aida Rodriguez is a comedian, host, producer, actress and the first Latina / Afro-Latina (Puerto Rican & Dominican) to appear in two comedy specials airing in one month on both HBO and Showtime. Aida’s latest comedy special premiered on Netflix as part of the “They Ready” series hosted by Tiffany Haddish. Rodriguez has also appeared on Comedy Central’s This Week at the Comedy Cellar, The Nightly Show, five-time host of the PBS Imagen Awards, NBC Last Comic Standing’s finals, TRUtv’s Laff Tracks and is also a regular contributor for The Young Turks. 

20. Indya Moore 

(January 17, 1995)

Place of birth: Bronx, New York

Contributions: Indya Moore is of Haitian, Puerto Rican, and Dominican ancestry. They are an actor among the largest cast of transgender on the show Pose. Moore does not identify as a Latinx, and instead identifies as Afro-Taíno. In June 2020, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first LGBTQ Pride parade, Queerty named them among the fifty heroes “leading the nation toward equality, acceptance, and dignity for all people.” 

21. Gina Torres 

(April 25th, 1969)

Place of birth: Manhattan, New York 

Contributions: Gina Torres is an actress and the first Afro-Latina to create, produce and star in her own show, ‘Pearson’. Torres won the ALMA Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Syndicated Drama Series for her role in Cleopatra 2525. Gina also received the Best Supporting Actress award by The Imagen Foundation (Spanish for “image”) Awards, the only premier Latino entertainment awards program dedicated to honoring the positive portrayal and creative excellence of Latinos and Latino cultures on screen. 

Fact Check: We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn’t look right, contact us!

The Roots, Naomi Campbell, 360 MAGAZINE

THE ROOTS × AFRICA DAY

THE ROOTS’ TWO ONE FIVE PRODUCTIONS & THE BRIDGE CELEBRATE AFRICA DAY BY PRODUCING 24 HOUR LIVESTREAM DJ PARTY FEATURING QUESTLOVE BEING KICKED OFF WITH AN INTRODUCTION FROM SUPERMODEL, ACTIVIST & PHILANTHROPIST NAOMI CAMPBELL: #THEROOTSAFRICADAY

EVENT SET TO LAUNCH AT 12AM EDT MONDAY, MAY 25TH

The Roots’ production company, Two One Five Entertainment, and The Bridge, which is executive produced by Tina Farrisand Suede, announce the upcoming #TheRootsAfricaDay celebration, a 24hour live-streamed event celebrating Africa and her Diaspora. The event will feature a DJ set by Questlove, DJ Zinhle, DJ Edu and performances by Seun Kuti, Mereba, Mafikizolo and more and be kicked off with an introduction from supermodel, activist and philanthropist Naomi Campbell, one of the most prolific and influential profiles of contemporary culture today. #TheRootsAfricaDay will launch at Midnight (12:00 AM EDT) on Monday, May 25th and can be viewed HERE on The Roots YouTube Channel.

“Doin’ My Drugs” x Film Premiere

Landmark Doin’ My Drugs Documentary Commemorates “Zero Discrimination Day”

With Swiss Premiere Screening as Initiative of UN Information Service

Danish Pop Star Screens his Documentary 1 March 2020, Following Film’s
2019 World AIDS Day Screening in China and CPH:DOX* World Premiere

WHO: Film subject, recording artist and AIDS activist Thomas Muchimba Buttenschøn; Doin’ My Drugs Documentary director Tyler Q Rosen; Kevin Osborne, Executive Director, the International AIDS Society; Charlotte Sector, Multimedia Communications Manager, United Nations (ONU) UNAIDS

WHAT: Swiss Premiere Screening of Doin’ My Drugs film in Geneva followed by discussion: HIV: 40 years Later, Discrimination Still Kills, with panelists Buttenschøn, Rosen, and Osborne; Charlotte Sector, moderator.

WHEN: Doin’ My Drugs Screening: 1 March 2020, 11:00h

WHERE: Cinéma CINÉRAMA EMPIRE, Rue de Carouge 72-74 Geneva. Phone: +86.10.5798.9798. Admission Free; all ages.

MORE: Doin’ My Drugs is the story of musician Thomas Muchimba Buttenschøn—born HIV-positive in 1985—and his crusade to use his music to wipe out AIDS in his native Zambia and beyond. Doin’ My Drugs aims to raise awareness about the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zambia — a country of 17 million people where more than 1.2 million are HIV-positive or have the disease. Zambia’s situation is mirrored throughout the developing world.

A father to two young children, Buttenschøn has kept his HIV in check and his family virus-free, by “doin’ his drugs.” He recognized that his native Zambia remains trapped in a horrific and senseless AIDS crisis. While a significant percentage of the population there is infected with HIV, many antiretroviral drug treatment programs that keep the virus dormant—“a near-zero viral load” as Buttenschøn says—are widely available through government programs for free.

Buttenschøn has recorded a full studio album in LA and Lusaka, Zambia with 16-time Grammyâ-winning producer, Thom Russo Jr. That album is titled Doin’ My Drugs and will become the official motion picture soundtrack. He debuted a new single, Keep On Talking, on his China tour.

Buttenschøn has also set up a foundation, the Muchimba Music Foundation, to help his supporters, collaborators and himself on their journeys. His goal is to test upwards of 100,000 Zambians by expanding his foundation’s Test-for-Ticket concert series into a country-wide tour of Zambia. The Muchimba Music Foundation’s initial concert in Lusaka tested 10,802 people and enrolled those who tested positive into patient care treatment programs. MMF is currently fundraising to meet his goal. The Muchimba Music Foundation is planning to produce a second major concert on World AIDS Day this year, Dec.1: Zed Me Free 2. Zed Me Free and joining UNAIDS is Muchimba’s latest move to acquire more partners with a goal to reduce HIV infection in Zambia and beyond.

UNAIDS, the United Nations Information Service Geneva and the
International AIDS Society organized this screening to commemorate Zero Discrimination Day.

Founded in 1988, the IAS is the world’s largest association of HIV professionals, with members in more than 170 countries. Working with its members, the IAS advocates and drives urgent action to reduce the impact of HIV. The IAS is also the steward of the world’s most prestigious HIV conferences: the International AIDS Conference, the IAS Conference on HIV Science, and the HIV Research for Prevention Conference.

The team’s choice of Buttenschøn and his film—a former judge on the country’s wildly popular Denmark’s Got Talent (Danmark Har Talnet) is reflective of his and his family’s personal experience with HIV/AIDS, his renown in the country and the world premiere of the film based on his life and work that premiered in Copenhagen as a highlight of the prestigious CPH:DOX* music program, one of the world’s foremost documentary film and music festivals.

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Thomas Muchimba Buttenschøn, Doin’ My Drugs, International AIDS Society, Vaughn Lowery, 360 Magazine,

Homecoming

Netflix released Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé, which presents an intimate look at her historic 2018 Coachella performance that paid homage to America’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Interspersed with candid footage and interviews detailing the preparation and powerful intent behind her vision, Homecoming gives a peek into the process and emotional physical sacrifices it took to conceptualize and execute a performance of that magnitude that became a cultural movement. This stand-alone Netflix original is now available globally on Netflix.

As the first black woman to headline Coachella, Homecoming recognizes the African American visionaries who inspired Beyoncé, including HBCU alums Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, activist Marian Wright Edelman, and scholar W.E.B. Du Bois, in addition to cultural luminaries such as Nina Simone, Maya Angelou, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Audre Lorde. Beyoncé’s personal knowledge of the relevance and celebration of HBCUs started with her father, Mathew Knowles, an alumnus of Fisk University.
Shot over eight months, the film follows the global entertainer as she returns to the stage after the birth of her twins, highlighting the comprehensive preparation involved in creating her groundbreaking performance, which included four months of band rehearsals followed by four months of dance rehearsals with over 150 musicians, dancers, and other creatives, — all of whom were hand-picked by the artist herself.
In juggling dual roles as both the director of her live performance and the film that captured the process of making it, Beyoncé says, “It was one of the hardest jobs I have taken on but I knew that I had to push myself and my team to go beyond great to legendary. We knew nothing like this was ever done on a festival level before and it needed to be iconic beyond compare. The performance was an homage to an important part of African American culture. It had to be true to those who know and entertaining and enlightening to those who needed to learn. In making the film and re-telling the story, the purpose remained the same.”
Many in the cast; band, singers, dancers and steppers are former HBCU students, immersed in the HBCU marching band tradition. They joined Beyoncé’s own group of performers, some who have toured with her for years. Viewers not only get to see the intense dance rehearsals and talent of these amazing artists, but hear their personal journey from HBCU student to artist and the lifelong impact that comes with performing alongside Beyoncé in this historic concert.
“So many people who are culturally aware and intellectually sound are graduates from historically black colleges and universities, including my father,” she says in the film. “There is something incredibly important about the HBCU experience that must be celebrated and protected.”
As a treat to her fans, the film also includes, in the end credits, her remake of “Before I Let Go” by Frankie Beverly and Maze, a 1981 R&B classic that’s commonly performed at HBCU games. The single will be available on the film’s soundtrack, Homecoming: The Live Album, available today from Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records. smarturl.it/BH9102
Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé was directed and produced by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. Longtime collaborator Ed Burke served as co-director. Steve Pamon and Erinn Williams are executive producers.
Set List

“Crazy In Love”

“Freedom”

“Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing”

“Formation”

“Sorry”/”Me, Myself and I”

“Kitty Kat”

“Bow Down”

“I Been On”

“Drunk In Love”

“Diva”

“Flawless” (Remix)

“Feeling Myself”

“Top Off”

“7/11”

“Don’t Hurt Yourself”

“I Care”

“Partition”

“Yoncé”

“Mi Gente (Remix)”

“Mine”

“Baby Boy”

“You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)”

“Hold Up”

“Countdown”

“Check On It”

“Déjà Vu”(featuring JAY-Z)

“Run the World (Girls)”

“Lose My Breath” (featuring Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams)

“Say My Name” (featuring Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams)

“Soldier” (featuring Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams)

“Get Me Bodied” (With Solange Knowles dancing)

“Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”

“Love On Top”

About Netflix
Netflix is the world’s leading internet entertainment service with over 148 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments.
About Parkwood Entertainment
Parkwood Entertainment is an entertainment and management company founded by entertainer and entrepreneur, Beyoncé in 2010. With headquarters in New York City the company houses departments in music and video production, management, marketing, digital, creative, philanthropy, fashion, publicity and a record label. Under its original name, Parkwood Pictures, in 2008, the company released the film Cadillac Records (2008), in which Beyoncé starred and co-produced. The company also released the film, Obsessed (2009), with Beyoncé as star and executive producer. Parkwood Entertainment produced The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour (2013-2014) and The Formation World Tour (2016), and co-produced the ON THE RUN TOUR (2014) and ON THE RUN II (2018).

Beyoncé, netflix, Homecoming

Beyoncé’s Homecoming

Writers: Vaughn Lowery, Tara McDonough, Stella Iman Dugall

Every once in a while pop culture encounters a rip in its continuum. The latest breach comes from one of the most effervescent entertainers of all time, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter, as the first Black female to headline one of the most prolific festivals since the iconic Woodstock. Introspective yet intimate, Homecoming is positioned to be one of the most immersive concert series in the history of music and streaming services. Beyoncé, the Director and Executive Producer of the film, creates a visually captivating story from the beginning to end. The documentary answers a plethora of questions, at which the infamous Beyhive has had about the historical moment.

With intermittent quick cuts of her family before, during and after the epic performance, Beyoncé gives herself permission to exhibit her vulnerability. After all, she planned to take the stage at Coachella in 2017 before she was pregnant with her twins. The tour was postponed and we fast forward to ‘Mrs. Carter’ having to deal with the aftermath of a complicated pregnancy, which ultimately ends in a c-section. Similar to friend, and professional tennis superstar, Serena Williams, Beyoncé bounced back harder than ever after her tough pregnancy. Throughout the piece she digs deep and pummels through some of the most difficult days she has ever encountered. She even speaks to her weighing 218 lbs and how she was only able to zip her costume up after months of hard work alongside of a dedicated clean/raw food diet – no meats, carbs, sugars. The director of photography expertly captured an extremely intimate and vulnerable side to the strong and flawless Queen Bey.

Inspiration

Having family members as graduates of some of the prominent HBCU (historically black colleges and universities), Beyoncé was able to tap into the most celebrated moments of their collegiate life. Her full show not only highlighted the history of these schools but also their social networks and fraternal organizations; transforming the stage into one of the most dynamic Black Southern spaces of cultural legacy and pride. Much of it was enunciated with their boot dancing, a traditional dance style for HBCU called J-Setting, in between transitions. These dance formations visually anchored the performance. Contortionists contributed an urban Cirque du Soleil vibe to the display which can be more accurately described as an infused gumbo of Chicago (the musical), Moulin Rouge! and the Off-Broadway play Stomp. To date, the pyramid stage has been persevered onsite at this year’s Coachella as an art installation.

A group of 200 people shared the stage with Queen Bey including Jay Z, Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams and Solange Knowles. The expansive crew that Beyonce worked and practiced with for 8 months is featured in the documentary, as each individual had their own part in making the event a success. The dancing in her set is not technical, but emotional. The crowd, as well as audiences watching the documentary at home, are meant to feel something from just the way Beyoncé and her dancers, who she handpicked herself, move with each other. The concert experience not only exhibits the immense talent of HBCU musicians but works towards using this heightened exposure to aid these institutions that have been struggling with little resources and grants since their establishment.

After the the release of Homecoming, Netflix will more than likely notice a spike in downloads/subscriptions; Beyonce will notice an increase in her fan base and HBCU enrollment rates will most likely skyrocket. Overall, most audience members will be thrashed into a world of black honor, history and preservation. While the Pew Report notes that there is a varying “black/white digital divide” concerning internet usage, (87% whites, 80% blacks), there is little divide when it comes to mobile platforms. The growth of black presence in media, such as on social media, in streaming services and more, will only continue due to the imminent success of Beyoncé’s partnership with Netflix. Her myriad of success as a dominant Black woman breaks down barriers in the same way Jordan Peele has done for young Black filmmakers across the diaspora. This will become one of the most treasured pieces of mass media and should offer encouragement to both women and minorities to bust through the glass ceiling on all fronts especially digitization and technology.

Beyoncé, Netflix, Homecoming

Illustrator: Alejandra Villagra

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