“Celebrating 30 Years of Black History, Culture and Art” is the central theme of the Savannah Black Heritage Festival scheduled for February 1-21, 2019. Cultural education and exposure to the performing and visual arts are offered for all ages and interests throughout the celebration. Special programs and activities during this festival will serve as tribute to the late Westley W. Law, the founder and former organizer of the Savannah Black Heritage Festival.
Included on the schedule are national, regional and local musicians of many genres, dance performances, a local youth talent showcase, historic tours, visual arts exhibitions by internationally acclaimed and local artists, the W.W. Law Lecture and theatre productions.
In addition to educational opportunities for youth through special programs and a health and wellness fair, a special walk and tour will trace the footsteps of W. W. Law along his U.S. Postal route in Savannah.
The 30th anniversary festival opens with a chorale concert and a dance performance. “Songs of Freedom and Justice” will include performances by the Savannah State University (SSU) Concert Chorale, SSU alumni, faculty and friends, Sunday, February 3, 3 p.m., Butler Presbyterian Church. On Wednesday, February 6, 7:30 p.m., a premiere evening performance by the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble of Denver, Colo., will be held at the Johnny Mercer Theater.
The dance company returns for its third appearance in Savannah, and the performance is free and open to the public. Admission tickets for the dance will not be required as seating will be on a first-come, first-seated basis. There will be a limited reserved-seat section for military families and seniors; however, these seats will be released 10 minutes prior to curtain call.
Artistic director for the dance ensemble, Cleo Parker Robinson, will engage the community with a public conversation Tuesday, February 5, 6:30 p.m., First Congregational Church, where she will highlight African-American cultural and historical influences upon dance choreography. In addition, the ensemble will conduct school and community dance workshops during their visit, February
4 and 5.
A special day of activities and symposia will be held to commemorate W. W. Law, his work and his impact in Savannah through civil rights, historic preservation and the establishment of the three museums that illustrate the rich history of African Americans in Savannah.
The Bright Star Children’s Touring Theatre will return and present multiple performances including Black History Hall of Fame, George Washington Carver and Friends, and Struggle for Freedom: The Life of Dr. King, in addition to an improvisational workshop. Many themes of the theatre company’s productions address Savannah leadership’s strategic plans for poverty reduction and economic development.
Also on the schedule is the tenth annual Future of Jazz legacy concert featuring young jazz instrumentalists and vocalists who are enrolled in music programs from middle school to graduate school. The concert will be the sixth performed in tribute to the late Ben Tucker.
Grand Festival Day, a family-fun event packed with activities and top entertainment, will be held at the Savannah Civic Center on Saturday, February 9. The annual gospel concert, featuring top artists, will be held Sunday, February 10.
The 2019 festival will be the 20th one produced by Savannah State University. Many festival events and activities are free of admission and open to the public. Updates and details are available at www.savannahblackheritagefestival.org, or call 912-358-4309.