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African American Holiday Traditions

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African American Holiday Traditions, a Kwanzaa Celebration and an adaptation of “Black Nativity: A Gospel Song/Play” by Langston Hughes will be performed by Rockford Reader’s Theatre.

Directed by Dorothy Paige-Turner, stories music and poetry will be shared that evolved from the traditions of enslaved Africans before and during the Civil War, through Emancipation on January 1, 1863. A little over one hundred years later in 1966, civil rights leader Maulana Ron Karenga conceived the idea of a special holiday geared specifically to the African American community. Kwanzaa, the “Celebration of First Fruits” (our children) will be included in the performance, in addition to personal memories form Christmases past by famous actors.

Langston Hughes’ “Black Nativity” is his most famous theatrical form - the Gospel Play. Taking advantage of gospel music’s crossover success in the 1950s, he wrote this piece, which was not only a hit in New York, but it also toured Europe, and is still a Christmas tradition in many African American churches. The audience will be encouraged to participate by singing along to these uplifting, familiar gospel Christmas favorites. You are also invited to tour the museum and experience other cultural traditions and exhibits.

This presentation is made possible  by a generous donation from the Dean Alan Olson Foundation, and is appropriate for all ages. Light holiday refreshments will be served after the performance.

The Heritage Museum Park (Ethnic Heritage Museum and Graham-Ginestra House) is open every Sunday from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. General admission to both museums is only $5 student, $7 individual, $15 per family or free to members. The Ethnic Heritage Museum is handicap accessible. There is parking available in the lot on the corner of Main and Morgan Streets next to the Graham-Ginestra House with additional parking on Loomis Street by the museum. 

Subarea:Rockford Southwest

Heritage Museum Park Welcome Center, Ethnic Heritage Museum - 1129 South Main St., Rockford, IL 61101 | Graham-Ginestra House – 1115 S. Main St., Rockford, IL 61101 ----- From I-90 and U.S. Business 20 (E. State St.): West 6.5 miles on Business 20 to IL 2 southbound (S. Church St.-S. Main St.). Turn left (south) on IL 2 for a little over one mile. Museum is on the right-hand side of S. Main Street. ----- From I-39: Go west on Bypass U.S. 20 to IL 2 (S. Main St.). Turn north on IL 2 to the museum on the west side of the street. ----- Parking is available on the street or in the lot on the corner of S. Main St. and Morgan Street, north of the museum park.

African American Holiday Traditions