The 26th Annual Savannah Black Heritage Festival is almost here. Get ready to enjoy the many programs, performances and activities for every age and interest in the performing and visual arts. Cultural education and cultural arts as well as ethnic cuisine, crafts, fun and family are emphasized throughout the celebration. The festival is presented by Savannah State University and the City of Savannah Department of Cultural Affairs. Scheduled for February 1 – 21, 2015, festival events will be centered around this year’s theme, “Today’s Youth; Tomorrow’s Legacy.” 2015 Festival Honorees are ZaDonna Slay, Executive Director/CEO of the West Broad Street YMCA and Miller Bargeron, Jr., Managing Partner, We Came to Conquer Entertainment, LLC.
The festival will open with two precursor events on Saturday, January 31st. The Earl Shinholster Youth Leadership Institute will facilitate its 3rd annual youth session: “Continuing the Legacy of Community
Leadership Established by the Late W. W. Law”, at the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum, at 11:00 a.m. Youth groups are encouraged to attend and participate. We will then gather at the African American Monument in Rousakis Plaza on the Riverfront for a silent dedication and wreath-laying ceremony at 1:30 p.m.
Great music of every genre, dance performances, national and regional recording artists, local youth talent showcases, historic tours, visual art exhibitions by internationally acclaimed and local artists and the W.W. Law Lecture Series, spoken word and dramatic productions are all included on the schedule. In addition, educational opportunities are provided through the Georgia Walk health walk and a health and wellness fair, the Sankofa Traveling Black History Museum, and youth programs emphasizing decision making.
In observance of the 125th Anniversary of the founding of Savannah State University, the festival will present Miller Bargeron, Jr., director & producer of the award-winning documentary, “Stubborn As A Mule,” as the W. W. Law Lecturer. Bargeron will facilitate a screening of the documentary, followed by a discussion along with Dr. Charles Elmore about the impact of General William T. Sherman’s Special Field Order No. 15, issued in Savannah, GA, on Jan. 16, 1865. His first presentation will take place on February 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Second African Baptist Church on Houston St. Others will follow on February 17 and 19 at Savannah State and Armstrong State Universities respectively.
Dr. Peggy Blood is the featured visual artist and will open at the Beach Institute Art Gallery on Sunday, February 1 at 3:00 p.m., with an exhibition of her works, entitled “The Commonality of Women in South America, Asia, Africa, India and Europe,” along with a book-signing and debut her latest book, “Below the Surface: Ethnic Echoes in America’s Modern and Contemporary Art.” The Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble of Denver, CO, will perform on February 3 at the Johnny Mercer Theater (Free admission tickets will be available beginning January 26). Prior to this public performance, the ensemble will engage the community with a Public Conversation on Monday, February 2, at 6:30 p.m., at the First Congregational Church on Habersham St., highlighting African American cultural and historical influences upon dance choreography. In addition, the ensemble will conduct a community dance workshop for dancers ages 12 and above on February 4th.
Other entertainers will include local and regional youth instrumentalists, vocalists and dancers, as well as featured artists for Grand Festival Day, Doug E Fresh, OMG Girlz, and Leonard, Coleman & Blunt… Former Lead Singers from the Temptations, Platters and Drifters. Pastor Tasha Cobbs is the featured Gospel artist, and the concert will be held in a new location, The First Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church on ALC Blvd. The Bright Star Children’s Touring Theatre of Ashville, NC, will return and present multiple public performances of their productions of Rosa Parks and Forgotten Friends and Freedom Songs: The Music of Black History. Also on the schedule is a performance from the Spelman College Women’s Jazz Ensemble at the festival’s second tribute to the late Ben Tucker on February 20 at the Lutheran Church of the Ascension on Wright Square. The festival will close on February 21 at St. Philip AME Church on MLK, Jr. Blvd., with Miss Anderson’s Songs: The Life and Music of Marian Anderson, a production from the National Portrait Gallery’s Culture in Motion Series.
The 2015 festival will be the 16th one produced by Savannah State University and the 26th sponsored by the City of Savannah Department of Cultural Affairs. . All festival events and activities are free of admission and open to the public.