Tag: Black History

30th Annual Umoja Festival

Portsmouth’s Umoja Festival is BACK!

The 2022 Umoja Festival will be held May 27-29, 2022, in Festival Park in Portsmouth. Join us in a grand celebration of unity at Portsmouth’s Annual African American culture and heritage celebration promoting cultural diversity and unity.

Bring the entire family to enjoy all the festivities including live music, kids’ activities, international foods and so much more!


Festival opening ceremony (5:30pm – 6pm) will be before RaJazz.

Friday, May 27th

6:00pm – 7:30pm              RaJazz

Saturday, May 28th

12:00pm – 1:00pm           Joselyn Best and JB Soulful Soundz

1:15pm – 2:15pm             Better By Tuesday

2:30pm – 3:30pm             5Starr

3:45pm – 4:45pm             Seamless

5:00pm – 6:15pm             Calden and Company

6:30pm – 7:45pm             Revelation

8:00pm – 9:15pm             Champagne Band

9:30pm – 11:00pm           Kustom Made

Sunday, May 29th

2:00pm – 2:30pm             Chi and Company

2:45pm – 3:15pm             New Pearly Gates

3:30pm – 4:00pm             Southeast VA Chapter of GMWA

4:15pm – 5:00pm             Brothers in Unity

5:15pm – 6:00pm             Brian D. Hill and the Provenance Singers


Hanging Tree Guitars

Hanging Tree Guitars is a traveling exhibition that showcases the work of Freeman Vines, a luthier, musician and material artist. Mr. Vines was born in Greene County, North Carolina, where his family sharecropped on plantations where they were once enslaved. For 50 years, he’s been building guitars from cast-off materials gathered from across the county – everything from an old tobacco barn, to radio parts, to the wood of a tree where a 1930 lynching took place. The exhibit was organized by the Music Maker Relief Foundation, which strives to preserve the legacy of musicians who are the creative roots of American Music. Join us for this exciting exhibition!

Java & Djembes: African Percussion Workshop featuring coffees and chocolates from the African continent

The Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center and Black History Now 2022 presents Java & Djembes, an African percussion workshop featuring coffees and chocolates from the African continent.  Participants enjoy coffees and fine chocolates from Africa while learning percussion rhythms from master musician Kamiruri Kelly of the Day Program.  Price is $10 per person.  Ages 17 and up please.  To register, go online to www.portsmouthartcenter.com or call 757-393-8543.

Soul Finger Project

This 4-person art exhibition features paintings and drawings influenced by contemporary Black Culture that traces its roots to the Caribbean, Northern Africa and beyond. Featured artists are Anthony Burks, Sr., from Florida; Portsmouth native and now Florida resident Ramel Jasir; Arthur Rogers, Jr., from Charlotte, North Carolina; and Clayton Singleton, from Norfolk, Virginia.

African American History Expo

The Portsmouth Public Library, Main Branch and Black History Now present an African American History Expo.  Celebrate African American history and music featuring handcrafted items, music from Porte Towne Magic, and speaker Jack Gary, Director of Archaeology for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.  Mr. Gary will discuss the excavations at the First Baptist Church in Williamsburg.  The church was organized in 1776 by a group of courageous slaves and free blacks who wanted to worship God in their own way.  Learn the fascinating history of this early African American congregation.  Free Event.

Urban Slavery and the Construction of Drydock #1 at the Gosport Shipyard

The Portsmouth History Museums and Black History Now present Dr. Linda Upham-Bornstein’s presentation Engineer Loammi Baldwin, Urban Slavery, and the Construction of Dry Dock #1 at Gosport Shipyard.  When Dry Dock 1 at today’s Norfolk Naval Shipyard was built in the 1830s, the labor necessary to complete it included enslaved stonecutters who were paid for their expertise.  Hiring out skilled slaves caused controversy, but not for the reasons you might think.  Discover more about this fascinating piece of Shipyard history when Dr. Upham-Bornstein, Teaching Lecturer in History at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH presents her research, first published in the Journal of Labor in 2007.  Free event.


About the photo: A “c.1920 painting depicting the U.S.S. Delaware, the first ship to enter the Stone Dock, a.k.a., today’s Dry Dock #1 at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Image courtesy of the Naval Historical Center.”

Tuskegee Airmen: The First Top Guns

The Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center and Black History Now present the Tuskegee Airmen: The First Top Guns.  In May of 1949, the  U.S. Military was still segregated.  The U.S. Air Force held the first Gunnery Meet in Las Vegas, NV, where five “fighter groups” sent their best pilots and crews to compete, including the all African American 332nd Tuskegee Airmen fighter group.  Come hear the details of this little known and fascinating story presented by Howard and Richard Baugh, two sons of decorated WWII fighter pilot, Lt. Col. Howard Lee Baugh.  Free event.

An Architecture of Democracy in a Landscape of Slavery

The Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center along with Black History Now is proud to present University of Virginia Professor Dr. Louis P. Nelson to discuss The Architecture of Democracy in a Landscape of Slavery: An Illustrated Presentation.  The University of Virginia is closely associated with Thomas Jefferson and is an architectural testament to the enlightened visions at that time, while also being a location where slavery was practiced.  Dr. Nelson provides illustrated examples on how the uses of architecture and landscape at this national landmark might actually reflect Mr. Jefferson’s own views on slavery.  Free event.

Caribbean Dreaming

Portsmouth Public Library and Black History Now presents Caribbean Dreaming, an opportunity to explore Caribbean Steel Drums through a historical and musical demonstration.  Learn how drums were outlawed on many Caribbean islands and how they came to be made from steel.  A unique sound and art form was created by politics.  Learn how the people of the Caribbean became independent and at the same time created an art all their own.  Free event.