Florida’s African-American Heritage Shines on the Cultural Calendar

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  • From Eatonville’s Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities in late January to Sunrise’s Grace Jamaica Jerk Festival in November, Florida lures African-Americans all year-long, with a calendar rich in cultural, professional and culinary events.

    They come for food, friends and football, beaches and business, music and motorcycles — at events stretching from Pensacola to Miami Beach.

    In May, more than 5,000 filmmakers, executives and movie fans converge on Miami Beach for the American Black Film Festival. The three-day event is considered the “leading venue for African-American and urban content,” and also features premieres of short films, narrative and documentaries.

    For those whose visual entertainment preferences tend toward live action, May in South Florida offers up Urban Beach Week, five days of concerts, parties and unstructured revelry in Miami Beach around Memorial Day weekend.

    Before that, however, winter’s chill prods Northerners and Midwesterners to turn their attention to the Jazz in the Gardens in Miami Gardens, where each March some of the best voices in R&B perform. According to organizers, more 63,000 people walked through the turnstiles for a recent event. Most came from outside South Florida, hailing mainly from the Caribbean, Canada and the continental United States.

    Over the years, stars including Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, John Legend, Frankie Beverly & Maze, Chaka Khan and Gladys Knight have graced the stage at Sun Life Stadium.

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