Campus & Community

Harvard kicks off its Black Arts Festival

2 min read

Theater, dance, music, and film will converge at the University this weekend for the Fourth Annual Harvard Black Arts Festival. The three-day event kicks off tomorrow (Friday, March 16), at 4 p.m., at the ARCO Forum, Kennedy School of Government, with a panel discussion featuring Tony-nominated actor Obba Babatunde and Urbanworld Entertainment CEO Stacey Spikes. A reception to celebrate the commencement of this year’s festival will take place at the Institute of Politics Penthouse. Interested parties may RSVP to

The 2001 Harvard Black Arts Festival will showcase four film screenings; workshops; and an array of theatrical, musical, and dance performances in the black artistic tradition. The festival – sponsored by the Kuumba Singers and a variety of other Harvard groups – runs through Sunday, March 18.

“The range of black arts events offered throughout this weekend is unparalleled in terms of genre, generation, and geography,” said Maya Renee Payne ’02, one of the festival’s organizers.

Included in Friday’s film lineup are the Boston premiere of John Berry’s “Boseman and Lena” – an adaptation of South African activist Athol Fugard’s classic play, and “The Visit,” directed by Jordan Walker-Pearlman. Billy Dee Williams stars in this drama inspired by the true story of a man sentenced to 25 years in prison.

On Saturday, March 17, acclaimed dancer Arthur Taylor will lead a jazz and hip-hop workshop. And Showtime Networks presents “A Salute to Black Independent Filmmakers” – a screening of five experimental short films. From romance to rap, these films expose the heterogeneity of the black artistic tradition.

“Celebration of the Spirit: Reflections of the Global Black Experience,” will close out Saturday’s festival activities with performances by Vintage, Sisters of Kuumba, and Boston City Lights, among other acts.

“Streetpeople,” by award-winning Kenyan playwright Ben Ateku, will stage three productions of his play during the festival.

“The Brothers,” directed by Gary Hardwick, closes out the festival on Sunday. The film follows four black men as they take on love, sex, friendship, and commitment.

Check out the Gazette Calendar for a complete listing of dates and times for this year’s Black Arts Festival, or contact Christina Lewis at