HARLEM WEEK Reimagined for 2021

August 8, 2021—It’s my favorite time of the summer—HARLEM WEEK 2021! This year’s festival is a “reimagined” event featuring 10 days of live and virtual celebrations of the history, people, arts, culture, and entertainment that reaffirm Harlem as a global destination.

As the readers of Arts & Culture Connections know, HARLEM WEEK began as a one-day event of encouragement and fellowship for the African-American residents of Harlem and persons of color in the other boroughs of New York City. Over the course of 47 years, the festival has grown to showcase the diaspora of African, Caribbean, Hispanic and European cultures, alongside Harlem’s rich social, economic and political history.

Sponsored by the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce (GHCC), HARLEM WEEK 2021 will feature tributes to the late Honorable David Dinkins, the first Black mayor of New York City; the late actors Chadwick Boseman and Cicely Tyson; the late fashion designer Lois K. Alexander, founder of the Harlem Black Fashion Museum; the late game show host and long-time GHCC member Alex Trebek, and the late legendary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Lloyd Price.

“We’re looking forward to coming together and celebrating and honoring those who have made Harlem as legendary as it is today,” said Lloyd Williams, president of GHCC. 

In addition, the festival will feature a salute to the WNBA for its pioneering efforts within the sports world to speak out about racial injustice; the ImageNation Virtual Film Festival, and Harlem’s renowned and famously fabulous Sundae Sermon Summer Dance Party.

Personally, I am looking forward to these four events, which will all be livestreamed on the HARLEM WEEK 2021 website at this link: 

  • Charles B Rangel Systemic Racism Summit at noon (ET) on Tuesday, August 10, 2021. This summit will feature the tough discussions the entire country needs to be having. It will offer an unfiltered examination of systemic racism in our country and probe the effects on the African-American, Caribbean-American, Hispanic and Asian-American populations. 
  • NYC Economic Development Day on Wednesday, August 11, 2021. The live and virtual summit will feature key discussions on community development, cyber security, digital development, and inclusion of small businesses.
  • Virtual Health Summit at noon (ET) on Thursday, August 12, 2021. This summit will bring together some of the foremost medical experts to discuss the effects of health issues and disparities on communities of color, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program also will cover alternative medicine modalities and mental health issues 
  • Broadway Reimagined at 3 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, August 12, 2021. I am honored to moderate this panel, which will feature conversations with actors, actresses and those behind the scenes discussing what theatre will look like as the world reopens and the audiences start seeing productions again. Discussion topics range from safety for the audience AND performers to diversity—close to 10 new productions are opening or reopening on Broadway. These productions were either written by persons of color, or the production features them in dominant roles on stage. 

HARLEM WEEK 2021 also will include a celebration of the reopening and resurgence of New York City’s vital lifeline—the performing arts. The festival will include both live and virtual performances by the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; Jazz at Lincoln Center; the New York City Center, and the New York Metropolitan Opera. There also will be performances from hit Broadway shows, including Tina: The Musical; Ain’t Too Proud; MJ The Musical; Thoughts of a Colored Man; Girl from the North Country; Lackawanna Blues, and Moulin Rouge.

I think this will be a very exciting HARLEM WEEK, with opportunities for people all over the country and world to participate from their homes. I urge you to check out the schedule, which can be found at this link, and join in this annual celebration of Harlem!

As always, I want to know what you think. What does HARLEM WEEK mean to you? Will you attend in-person or join the celebration virtually?

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