For the primary time in its 29-year historical past at San Diego Repertory Theatre, the San Diego Kuumba Fest next weekend can be a three-day virtual event.
However although the annual celebration of African American tradition, music, dance and management can be introduced on-line Friday by means of Feb. 28, founder and inventive director Dajahn Blevins guarantees an extravaganza of what he calls “edu-tainment.”
“Up to now I’m blown away with what we’ve acquired,” Blevins stated. “With all the things shut down, folks assume all of the work they’re doing has been placed on maintain. However now that we’re seeing gentle on the finish of the tunnel, our battle cry is again to motion.”
This 12 months’s competition theme is “Black 2 Motion Not in Useless.” Blevins stated this represents the restart of his group’s theatrical programming after an 11-month pandemic-related shutdown. He stated it’s been a exhausting time to sit down on the sidelines creatively because the killing of George Floyd on Could 25 and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter motion.
“The entire world stood up for us after what occurred to George Floyd. It’s time for us to reinvest in ourselves,” he stated. “The Royal Courtroom opening night time can be like a renewal of our vows that we’re again to motion within the battle for liberty and freedom and justice and the dismantling of systemic racism.”
The roots for Kuumba Fest had been sown practically 35 years when City Warriors — a coalition of Black actors and volunteers led by Blevins — shaped a youth, household and group improvement program at Horace Mann Center College. As a juvenile corridor diversion program, 16 at-risk Black college students had been enrolled in a group mentoring program the place they discovered abilities of creativity and self-determination. In the event that they accomplished the work and acquired good grades, the scholars would have the chance to create and inform their very own tales at a year-end group celebration of edu-tainment, a mixture of schooling and leisure.
This system expanded to Black youths at faculties citywide. It additionally started serving the scholars’ mother and father, since Blevins stated lots of the kids’s issues could possibly be traced again to issues at residence attributable to their mother and father’ substance abuse or different points. A number of the year-round programming aimed to construct stronger mother and father and households embrace a city corridor assembly, a Black household day and a trend present and expertise showcase. The group additionally presents Saturday college for Black cultural schooling and classes in Swahili (Kuumba means “creativity” in Swahili).
“They’re so busy doing constructive issues they don’t have time to return to these previous behaviors and may see the fantastic thing about their kids in a residence that’s constructing group by means of positivity,” he stated.
Since 1993, Kuumba Fest has been introduced on the Lyceum Theatre by City Warriors and the African American Advisory Council for San Diego Rep. This 12 months, San Diego Repertory Theatre is becoming a member of as a full producing associate. Often Kuumba Fest attracts an viewers of three,500 to five,000 folks for a mixture of music, theater, dance, workshops, arts and craft gross sales and recognition of Black group leaders.
This 12 months’s competition will open as it all the time has with the “Night time of Constructive Photos” recognition ceremony, and it’ll shut with the standard gospel finale, however many of the different programming this 12 months was developed for an internet viewers. Admission to stream the competition is free, however registration is required with a advised donation of $15 per day at sdrep.org/kuumba.
Friday, Feb. 26
“Night time of Constructive Photos”: Annual royal court docket group honorees are Dr. Wilma Wooten, Secretary of State Shirley Weber, Jacqueline Jackson and Mardell Matthews. 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 27
Kuumba Children “African American Particular person Chant”: Saturday college, community-based applications, Black boys mentoring with Dajahn Blevins. 12:30 p.m.
Efficient Black media virtual panel dialogue: Ahmed Ok. Dents moderates a program on how Black media aids in ushering Black artwork into the longer term. 1 p.m.
Style of Soul San Diego with Deshonda Roberts: San Diego’s Ujamaa (“cooperative economics” in Swahili) dialogue options high Black-owned and -operated eating places and Black cooks in San Diego. 2 p.m.
Dance showcase: Weight problems prevention performances coordinated by Keep Leisure: Health showcase with Shanna Franklin. 3 p.m.
“R New Dwelling: Stay within the Zoo”: Excerpts from a new play by Earl Hamilton Jr., carried out by Group Actors Theatre. 4 p.m.
Preserving Black Artwork Museums: Virtual panel dialogue with Leah Goodwin and Yvette Moore. 6 p.m.
“The Parade of Historical past”: Nice kings and queens carry the Black museum to life. 7 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 28
Postage stamp unveiling: The U.S. Postal Service will unveil a new heritage stamp, with Wendy Dorsey. 2 p.m.
“Preaching the Blues”: Maisha S. Akbar discusses the significance of the black feminist artist in lynching tradition and interdisciplinary scholarship. 2:30 p.m.
Virtual Gospel Artist New Launch Showcase: Offered by Mandate Data. 4 p.m.
— Pam Kragen is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune