Queens Library Honors The African-American Diaspora During Black History Month With A Series Of Cultural Events
Throughout February, Queens Library will celebrate Black History Month with more than 100 free events and programs at all 62 of its branches. Inspired by Maya Angelou's works, this year's theme, "Black Migrations: Traveling Shoes," seeks to pay homage to the African-American diaspora, highlighting the movement and cultural contributions of people of African descent around the world.
Highlights will include a talk with the legendary Broadway producer and director Woodie King Jr. on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 2 pm at Central Library (89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica), who will discuss his life in film and theater. The event will feature a reading of an excerpt from August Wilson's play "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," examining the African-American experience during the Great Migration.
The Langston Hughes Library (100-01 Northern Blvd., Corona), which has one of the largest collections about the black experience in the country, will celebrate Black History Month with a series of events devoted to discovering the poetry of its famous namesake.
On Saturday, Feb. 9 at 4:30 pm, the branch will host a panel discussion led by Queens Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott about black migrations featuring four panelists: Liberian-American author Wayétu Moore, New York State Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, Borough of Manhattan Community College Professor James Blake, M.S.W. and Dr. Alesha Ignatius Brereton, who has worked on ending gender-based violence.
Author Maxine Gordon will discuss "Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon," the recently published biography of her late husband, tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon, who was one of the major innovators of modern jazz, on Monday, Feb. 11, at 6 pm, also at Langston Hughes, along with Ricky Riccardi, author and archivist of the Louis Armstrong Museum collection. Books will be available for sale and signing.
And on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 6:30 pm at the Queens Village Library (94-11 217 Street, Queens Village), the KaNu Dance Theater will present the history of Haiti, from the slave trade period to their journey to freedom, through dance.
As part of the Black History Month programming, Queens Library patrons will also hear African folktales and participate in interactive African dance classes, movie screenings, and poetry workshops. Teaching artist David McLeod will trace the history of Soca music and dance, and jazz singer Stacia Hobdy will perform the music of legendary artists such as Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and B.B. King. Several branches will also explore the migration series by painter Jacob Lawrence, with patrons re-creating their own journeys.
Patrons can also participate in a "Passport Challenge," in which contestants receive passports challenging them to travel to every Queens Library branch to view examples of the cultural traditions and art inspired by black migrations. These include images of panels from Lawrence's series, African instruments as well as spices that are typical of African and Caribbean cuisine. Passports will be stamped at each visited library, and those who collect the most will receive prizes.
To learn more about Traveling Shoes: Black Migrations and other Black History Month events and activities, please visit queenslib.org/travelingshoes.