Libraries, cultural groups mark Black History Month

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The month of February has been dedicated to the celebration of African history, heritage and tradition. Community centers are encouraging African awareness and appreciation by inviting the public to visit exhibits, participate in workshops and attend lectures.

The Queens Historical Society is exhibiting, “Angels of Deliverance: The Struggle Against Slavery in Queens and Long Island,” now through April 29. The important role of local African-Americans and the Long Island Quakers in the struggle against slavery is demonstrated through original documents, photos, maps, diaries, letters, and handmade re-creations of the quilting patterns that were used as coded messages to help guide slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. For more information call 939-0647.

At 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11, the Queens Women’s Center holds a panel discussion on the “Politics and Empowerment of Black Women.” The QWC is in Room 158 of Queensborough Hall, 170-5 Queens Blvd. in Kew Gardens. 793-0672.

At the same time, the Queens Historical Society holds a panel discussion, “African-American History — Where We Were and Where We Are in Queens and Beyond” at the Flushing Public Library, 41-17 Main St. The panel includes U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D-Corona), and others. For more information, call 939-0647.

The Queens Museum of Art celebrates the month with a series of free programs, including a slide show and talk on the famed inventor, Lewis Latimer of Flushing, a colleague of Alexander Graham Bell and of Thomas Edison, at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10 at the QMA in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Dr. Winifred Latimer-Norman, the inventor’s granddaughter, will be a featured speaker. 592-9700.

Also at the QMA, storyteller Joy Kelly reaches back into her own heritage and presents talers and songs from Uganda, Nigeria, and South America at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17.

Throughout the month, the YMCA in Jamaica presents film and dance. Every Thursday night at 6, free admission is granted to all who are interested in a movie exploring Black America. On Thursday, March 1, the center presents “Four Little Girls,” a Spike Lee documentary, at 7:30 p.m. in the Mills Gymnasium. The Teen Action and Performing Arts Department will perform a West African Boot Dance. For more information, contact the Jamaica YMCA at 739-6600.

Flushing resident Bill Sims and the American Acoustic Roots Orchestra perform at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9 at the Brooklyn-Queens Conservatory of Music in celebration of Black History Month. Call 461-8910.

Starting Tuesday, Feb. 20, the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning presents, “Sequined Surfaces: Haitian Voudoun Flags.” The exhibit features 50 flags, some designed by voodoo priests and priestesses and others designed and sewn by individual believers. Call 658-7400.

The libraries of Queens are featuring the tales, music and dance of Africa in this month’s calendar of events. They offer a wide variety of ways to experience the ancient cultures, from hands-on activities for children, to musical performances. The Harambee Dance Company will interpret traditional dance forms to the beat of the African drum at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11 at the Queens Village branch, as well as on the 17th at 2 p.m. at the Astoria branch. People of all ages are invited to see the inspired footwork and rhythm of the performers, as these ancient rituals resurface in modern times.

On Wednesday, Feb. 14 starting 3:30 p.m. at the Elmhurst branch, 5 to 12-year-olds can groove to the sounds of African Soul music during Makinto’s one-man show. Accompanied by the talking drum, balaphone and calimba, Makinto will convey the heart and passion of African song, while encouraging the young audience join in on the experience.

Also Feb. 14, at 7 p.m., The Queens Borough President’s Office and the Queensborough Public Library present a panel discussion, “Civil and Human Rights in the 21st Century” at the Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center, 100-01 Northern Blvd. in Corona. Panelists include people from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Jewish Community Council of New York, and the New York Urban League. Call 651-1100 for more information on this and other events at the Langston Hughes Center.

At 3:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9 at the Cambria Heights library branch, and on Tuesday the 20th at 1:30 p.m. in Fresh Meadows, Makinto, through his mastery of 10 different instruments, will tell the story of his musical grandfather Mabele. Preregistration for the show is required.

The Queens Public Libraries also offer specialized art workshops. Starting at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9 in Lefrak City and Tuesday, Feb. 13 in Queensbridge, as well as on Friday the 16th at 11 p.m. in Fresh Meadows, 12-14 year olds will be guided by Pamela Isaac in the design of African jewelry. On Feb. 9 at 3:30 p.m. in East Flushing, and on the 20th at 1:30 pm in Broad Channel, children from grades 3-6 will receive a lesson on African slavery, as they create paper quilts resembling those used in the Underground Railroad. Beginning at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12 at the Laurelton branch, as well as on the following day in South Hollis, 13-15 year olds will experience tribal life as they decorate traditional African masks. Preregistration is required for all of these activities.

For information on additional activities, times and locations, call the library branches, or visit the Queens Public Library website at

Cultural organizations are also holding special events this month. The Langston Hughes Center, 100-01 Northern Blvd. in Corona, presents “The Meeting,” a play that relates an imaginary conversation between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. This will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 2 at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. For more information call 651-1100.

The Black Spectrum Theatre in Roy Wilkins Park presents “Friendship Express,” the story of a boy who goes on a journey to find a friend after his best buddy moves away. Performances are at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 12 through Friday, Feb. 16. Call 723-1800, Ext. 15.

The Roy Wilkins Center at 177th Street and Baisley Boulevard plans to unveil a commemorative stamp featuring Roy Wilkins on Thursday, Feb. 15. For details, call 276-4630.

Gwen Cleveland and Stephanie Rice join Harold Ousley and A Circle of Friends in a Black History Month jazz concert, “An Evening to Remember,” at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16 in the Harvest Room of the Jamaica Market, 90-40 160th St. Call 297-4708.

Even though all the different events use a variety of disciplines and media, they share a principle goal: to demonstrate the contributions — until relatively recently largely ignored in America — that black men and women have made in world and U.S. history.

Reach Qguide writer Ilana Zimmerman by e-mail at, or call 229-0300, Ext. 139.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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