Celebrate Black History Month at the movies

By Merle Exit

After a rather inauspicious beginning during the second week of February 1926, Black History Month was finally recognized by the federal government in 1976.

“Seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history,” President Gerald Ford said at the time.

In Queens, February brings a slate of movie-related events that celebrate the various accomplishments of African-Americans.

For the third consecutive year, the Museum of the Moving Image joins with the Black Filmmaker Foundation for an afternoon of discussions, screenings and performances where race and the media intersect.

This year’s forum, “The Color of Comedy,” takes place Feb. 6, and includes a screening of Harry Belafonte’s 1967 TV special “A Time for Laughter: A Look at Negro Humor in America.”

The show includes performances by Dick Gregory, Redd Foxx, Moms Mabley and a young Richard Pryor.

This screening will be followed by a town hall discussion moderated by Warrington Hudlin, president of the Black Filmmaker Foundation and vice chairman of the museum.

“I was moved by Harry Belafonte’s TV special,” Hudlin said. “It was the greatest piece I’ve seen. Comedians are the truth tellers of our society. The discussion session is composed of comedians that I represent, who may not be as well-known, but I’m certain that they’ll have you laughing. We want this forum session to be interactive as well as entertaining.”

Participating performers include Mugga Phoenix, Freddie Ricks, Alauddin Ullah, Joyelle Johnson, Ruperto Vanderpool and Tim Wynn.

Another film screening takes place Feb. 19, but this one will be held at the King Manor Museum in Jamaica.

Many people may be familiar with Steven Spielberg’s 1997 film “Amistad,” the story of a slave upraising on the ship Amistad in 1839. Now, they can see “Ghosts of Amistad,” a documentary based on Marcus Rediker’s 2012 book “The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom.”

The movie follows Rediker’s journey to Sierra Leone to recover historical accounts from the African villages whose residents were forced onto the slave ship.

Following the screening, the co-producers, Philip Misevich and Konrad Tuchscerer will lead a discussion. To reserve a seat, e-mail progr[email protected]ingmanor.org or call (718) 206-0545 ext. 13.

If you Go

“The Color of Comedy”

When: Saturday, Feb. 6, at 1 pm

Where: Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Ave., Astoria

Cost: $12/adults, $9/seniors and students, $6/children ages 3 -12

Contact: (718) 777-6888

Website: www.movingimage.us

“Ghosts of Amistad”

When: Friday, Feb. 19, at 6:30 pm

Where: King Manor Museum, 150-03 Jamaica Ave., Jamaica

Contact: (718) 206-0545

Website: www.kingmanor.org

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