The 18th annual African-American Cultural Celebration at the N.C. Museum of History features 75 different acts, exhibits and events over a six-hour period.
The Jan. 26 schedule covers a wide variety of genres, from 11-year old violinist Tyler Butler-Figueroa to senior cheerleaders, Durham Divas ‘n Dudes. Plus, there are art and history exhibits, spoken word performances, food and shopping.
“Even though it is a one-day event, there is a lot of planning that goes into it, and a lot of thought,” said Emily Grant, the museum’s youth programs coordinator and the festival’s director.
“It really showcases and highlights the best of what is happening in North Carolina, in history, arts, literature,” Grant said. “It’s just a celebration.”
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And almost every year, organizers invite a new slate of performers. If they are repeat guests, Grant said it’s because they’re unique to North Carolina.
“No one else can do what they do,” Grant said.
We took a look at the lineup to come up with these 6 highlights that will give visitors a taste of the celebration.
1. The procession
Kick things off Saturday at 10:30 a.m. with the parade led by Tryon Palace Jonkonnu Drummers, one of the recurring acts. They will get visitors excited about the rest of the day. The procession starts outside at Bicentennial Plaza and ends up in the museum lobby.
2. Ernie Barnes dance tribute
Durham native Ernie Barnes, a football player-turned-artist, is featured in the museum’s exhibit, “The North Carolina Roots of Artist Ernie Barnes,” which runs through March 3. On Saturday, this performance will pay tribute to Barnes and the dancing figures found in his paintings, particularly his most famous one, “The Sugar Shack.” The painting, depicting dances at the Durham Armory from the 1940s and ’50s, is on the cover of the Marvin Gaye 1976 album, “I Want You.” It’s also seen in the closing credits of the ‘70s TV series, “Good Times.”
J. Ivy, a spoken lyric poet, and NC Central University’s dance group will present “At the Shack” and “Guiding Light” from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in Daniels Auditorium.
3. North Carolina and Hip-Hop
Chanel Nestor, a North Carolina A&T graduate, combines photography and hip-hop in “Don’t Wait Til It’s Cool: An N.C. Hip Hop Photography Exhibit.” The exhibit “explores the relationship between North Carolina’s hip-hop culture, music venues and the photographers that capture those artists on stage and beyond,” according to Nestor’s website. The exhibit features an array of artists and photographers.
Nestor will talk about the exhibit from 11:55 a.m. to 12:25 p.m. in the Longleaf Classroom, SECU Education Center, Level R.
4. ‘Whitt-Ness the Journey: Affralachians in the Appalachians’
This brother-sister duo brings their mother and grandmother to every performance to emphasize the direct connections that elders and family have on community. Listen to original music and stories about the African-American community in Western North Carolina.
They will perform from 2:30 to 3 p.m. on the Staircase Stage, Level 1.
5. Civil War Re-enactors
There will be a day-long reenactment of the Civil War from the African-American point of view to demonstrate the daily lives of service members.
They will be in the Call to Arms Gallery on Level 3 from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
6. Black Farmers Market
Black farmers bring their produce and goods to an all-day market on Bicentennial Plaza.
“This event is a true community event done by and for the community, where people can feel a magnitude of good,” Grant said. “You can find something that feels familiar to you, and you are always going to find something that is like a discovery.”
What: African-American Cultural Celebration: “Celebrate! Culture, Kinship and Community, ‘The Ties That Bind’”
Where: N.C. Museum of History, 5 E. Edenton St., Raleigh
When: Jan. 26, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.