Afro-Latinos and those interested in the African roots of Latino cultures came out from all boroughs this weekend in support of a new Festival that speaks their complex and rich language. From July 10th to July 12th, the 3rd edition of the Afrolatino Festival NYC celebrated this important, oft-ignored, aspect of Latin American and Caribbean cultures. As official supporters of the U.N. International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), the Festival delivered a robust lineup that delivered on its commitment to affirm, educate, and celebrate Afrolatinidad.
“This was a Festival for our community by our community. One of the things that struck me when I moved to New York from Panama was the lack of recognition of the African roots of our latino community. So we built our own space to showcase that aspect that is so central to Latino’s collective culture, identity, history. Estamos plantando bandera for Afrolatinos and our Latino community generally,“ shared Mai-Elka Prado, founder and organizer of the Festival.
Artists, key figures of the Afrolatino community, politicians, and members of the press kicked off the festivities by recognizing the contributions of accomplished Afrolatinos in New York City.
The opening included performances by diverse local and international acts, such as Los Hacheros, Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats, Kalunga Neg Mawon, and Cuban songstress Danay Suarez, as well as a mixed media installation and exhibit. Among those present were Congresswoman Yvette Clarke; Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer; Natasha Williams, Executive Director of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, NYS Assembly, among others.
On day two, a series of panels focused on the intersection of media and Afrolatinidad and touched on issues affecting Afrolatinos across the globe. Speaking of the importance of spaces like the Festival for Afrolatinos in the US, DJ Asho shared, “As latinos, we don’t talk about the micro-identities of Latinos. Spaces like the Festival help us do this.”
The screening of the AfroLatino TV: The Untaught Story packed a house later in the day. Later, Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto charmed an intergenerational crowd at the Que Bajo?! party with their Cumbia and Vallenato rhythms.
Day three brought an array of creative expressions of Afrolatinidad across the Americas with acts that included Samba dancers, one of the only all-female Batala NYC groups in the world, street vendors, and dance classes, amongst others.
The robust musical lineup included emerging artists El Caribefunk, and local and international powerhouses Chop n Quench “The Fela Band“, Los Hacheros, Kafu Banton, Les Nubians, and Cultura Profética. The evening concluded with Cultura Profetica’s front man Willy Rodríguez tribute to the father of Reggaeton, El General, with a rendition of the artist’s iconic Tu Pum Pum. In all, the energy of the crowd throughout the day created a powerful space where Afrolatinidad, in all its manifestations, shone.
Photo Credits: Mario Carrión Thomas De Los Santos
The organizers are already looking to next year, “This year, as with the first two, was really a labor from the heart…We picked our programming with the intention to bring together a community at that level—the heart level, de familia. Our lineup and programming now and in the future is our mental play list of super talented artists that showcase a variety of local and international talents that speak to our Afrolatino community, that celebrates Afrolatinidad in its many forms, traditional, contemporary and even futuristic. This year was our biggest yet, and we are excited for what’s to come.”
For more information visit www.afrolatinofestnyc.com