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On July 7th and 8th, the Afro Latino Fest will descend upon New York City. The festival offers film screenings, musical performances, panel discussions and art installments curated to speak to the Afro Latino experience. Now in its fifth year, the fest just continues to grow in scope and buzz each year. Outlets such as Gothamist have hailed the event as “one of New York’s best festivals” while Latina Magazine has said its “the littest fest in NYC”. So how did the festival come about? What’s slated for this year? For a look just peep below.

How It Started

A grassroots project led by Mai-Elka Prado Gil and Amilcar Priestley, a Panamanian couple in Brooklyn, the festival started in 2013 as more of an outdoor afternoon party. Prado Gil, a co-founder and director of the festival, grew up in San Miguel, Panama, but came to New York at 19. As she told the Village Voice, upon arrival she realized her ethnicity and race were more complex in the U.S. “I knew I was Black, of course, but mainly I felt Panamanian. Then coming here, I realized there were so many other layers to my Black, female, Latina identity. I learned to navigate these layers. Creating the festival was another phase.”

Prado Gil further says her inspiration was actually DanceAfrica, the arts festival and community gathering in Fort Greene. Brooklyn. As she told the Village Voice, “I came to the conclusion that we needed that kind of space, and just maybe I could create it.” For Priestly, a director of the festival, the reasons are similar. He recently told BRIC TV, “the conversation about Afro Latinidad is not a new conversation, but it is gaining a renewed sense of momentum and attention, we think it’s important to for it to have its space within larger discourse about race, ethnicity and identity…with this festival the goal is to make sure that we carve out our own space…”

When asked by BRIC TV, what they were most proud of about this year’s festival, Prado Gil, noted “the theme of highlighting the contributions of women is the most important aspect of this year’s festival. Taking that step to be unapologetic in that aspect and having all female black and brown lineup.” And speaking of line-ups, this year’s slate will not disappoint.

The Unapologetic AfroLatinx Lineup

This year’s theme is a “Tribute to the Women of the Diaspora” and the first day of the festival takes place uptown in Harlem U.S.A. At the Shomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Events will include an AfroLatin Talks Symposium co-curated with the Smithsonian Institution, panel discussions on topics such as digital and IRL activism, Black Lives Matter in Latin America, the Liberacion Film Festival which will include works from filmmakers hailing from Curacao, Haiti, Honduras and the Dominican Republic, as well as art installations by Zahira Kelly aka Bad Dominicana. And that’s just day one.

Brooklyn holds down day two. From 1pm to 11 pm, you’re in store for some musical performances from the likes of queen of soca Alison Hinds, two-time Latin Gammy winner and merengue queen Millie Quezada, rapper Nitty Scott, Amara La Negra, and many more. Day two of the festival will be held at the Bed-Stuy Restoration Plaza.

For a peep of the energy and vibe the festival brings, check out the sizzle reel of last year’s events. Also, it’s not too late to join in on the festivities, tickets can be purchased at www.afrolatinofestnyc.com

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