Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday Afternoon by the Brooklyn Navy Yard : The 39th Annual African Arts Festival at Commodore Barry Park

This afternoon we took the G train to Flushing Avenue and then the B-57 bus to Commodore Barry Park by the Brooklyn Navy Yard for the 39th Annual International African Arts Festival, a cornucopia of live music, dance, and spoken word performances; an incredibly varied African marketplace, showcase performances, fashion and hair shows, and lots of events for kids.

It opened this morning and will be at the surprisingly spacious Commodore Barry Park until Monday at 10 a.m. This year's festival's theme is Uhuru Sasa, Freedom Now, and commemorates the fortieth anniversary of Uhuru Sasa Shule, the seminal Northern "freedom school" founded here in 1970 by the visionary Jitu Weusi and the African Students Association, and also honoring Atiba Coard, a former student at Sasa and a Festival pillar who joined the ancestors last year.

We saw some great performances by this excellent Bed-Stuy youth jazz band

(we didn't catch its name, but we were astounded to hear that these talented kids began playing only in the last year or so) and the Broadway line dancing of the elegant ladies (and a couple of men) from the Grace Agard Harewood Senior Center in Clinton Hill.

There were lots of places to get good food - even for vegetarians!

At first we thought the tents and tables were confined to a decent-size chunk of the park, but we kept seeing new areas: on the ball fields, in the kids' playground, everywhere, more African- and African-American- themed stuff that was saying "Buy me! Buy me!" to us than we ever could have imagined.

The 39th Annual International African Arts Festival is well-worth the $3 donation asked for adults. We're going back before it closes on Monday.

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