It’s Black History Month, and the entire United States is celebrating the achievements of African-Americans. As always, Queens is part of the action with a diverse array of related events. And although February is about half over, the borough is preparing plenty of opportunities for education, enrichment and entertainment. Please continue reading for more information.

Lewis Latimer (1848–1928) was an inventor who worked with Alexander Graham Bell on the telephone and Thomas A. Edison on the lightbulb. Plus, the self-taught master draftsman was a patent law expert and painter who co-founded the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Queens. His wood-framed, two-story Flushing residence is now the Lewis Latimer House Museum.

On Sunday, Feb. 16, Latimer’s great-grandnephew, Hugh B. Price, will discuss and sign his autobiography, “This African-American Life,” at Latimer House at 2:30 p.m. Price’s resume includes leading the National Urban League, serving on the editorial board of The New York Times, and working as vice president of the Rockefeller Foundation. In his book, he traces his heritage to Nero Hawley, who fought in the American Revolution at Valley Forge under General George Washington.

The following Sunday, Feb. 23, Latimer House will screen the 2018 film “Sorry to Bother You” at 2 p.m. The dark comedy follows a young African-American telemarketer who adopts a white accent to succeed. He does very well, but then he finds out that his company secretly sells weapons and violates human rights. Hilarity ensues with a bit of magical realism and a severe critique of capitalism.

Both events are free. Latimer House is at 34-41 137th St.

The Jamaica Performing Arts Center will highlight African-American composers and honor the legacy of the late opera star Jessye Norman with Classical Crossover on Saturday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. Two brothers who are also virtuoso pianists, Nerva and Robenson Altino, will play various musical genres with help from two sisters who are also talented sopranos, Cherisse and Cherissia Williams. Jessica McJunkins, who was part of Beyoncé’s On The Run II world tour, will accompany on the violin.

General admission tickets are $20, but seniors and students can attend for $15. JPAC is at 153-10 Jamaica Ave.

The next Saturday, Feb. 22, the International Black History Month Film Festival will take place at the same venue from 4:15 p.m. to 10 p.m. Presented by Queens Underground 718, this first-ever festival will show features, shorts, music videos and web episodes. The night includes a red carpet event and live performances.

A two-day performance by the Fanike African Dance Troupe concludes Black History Month observances at JPAC the following weekend. On Saturday, Feb. 29, at 7:30 p.m., the group will premiere “Warrior, Save Our Home,” which involves traditional African drumming and a libation ceremony, a ritual drink offering in honor of ancestors.

On Sunday, March 1, Fanike will present a Day of Culture II at 3 p.m. Troupe members, artist/fashion designer Delali Haligah and cultural consultant Shola Jones will offer workshops on talk, walk, dance and storytelling.

Two local cultural nonprofits — Afrikan Poetry Theatre and Museum of the Moving Image — will combine forces to present a Black History Month Film Festival on Saturday, Feb. 15.

The afternoon begins at 2 p.m with screenings of recent work by students in the Afrikan Poetry Theatre’s film class and professional directors with a keynote speech by Markuann Smith, who created the Epix/Netflix series “Godfather of Harlem,” which stars Forest Whitaker. Then, former Malcolm X bodyguard James Small, who taught at CUNY, BET correspondent Samson Styles, Emmy-winning producer Eugenia Harvey and writer/director Vernon “Smij” Williams will discuss the good, the bad and the ugly of the film industry.

The program will continue at 4:15 p.m. with a panel discussion dubbed “Are We in an Urban Film Renaissance?” Oscar correspondent Mike Sargent will host the conversation with film critics Valerie Complex (Variety, The Hollywood Reporter) and Wilson Morales, editor of www.blackfilm.com.

Admission is free with RSVP. The Museum of the Moving Image is located at 36-01 35th Ave. in Astoria’s Kaufman Arts District.

The idea for Black History Month started with the founding of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History by Harvard-educated historian Carter G. Woodson and a prominent Congregational minister, Jesse E. Moorland, in 1915. The group launched a national “Negro History” week in February 1926. Popularity grew, and President Gerald Ford designated February as “Black History Month” in 1976. It’s now celebrated in Canada and the United Kingdom, too.

Top image: Issah Morris; bottom image: Altino Brothers


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