The Harlem Cultural Festival (also known as Black Woodstock) was a series of music concerts held in Harlem, New York.
The event was held during the summer of 1969 to celebrate African American music and culture and to promote the continued politics of black pride. Notable participants included Nina Simone, B.B. King, Sly & the Family Stone, Jesse Jackson, Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach, The 5th Dimension, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, and Moms Mabley, among many others.
For the concert featuring Sly & The Family Stone on June 29, 1969, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) refused to provide security, and it was instead provided by members of the Black Panther Party.
Producer Hal Tulchin filmed the full concert series, though the majority of this film remains commercially unreleased. New York’s affiliate television station WNEW Metromedia Channel 5 (now FOX) broadcast hour-long specials of the footage on Saturday evenings at 10:30 PM in June–August 1969.
The festival was hosted and promoted by Tony Lawrence, a New York night club singer. The concerts took place in Harlem’s Mount Morris Park on Sundays at 3 pm from June 29, 1969, to August 24, 1969.
Sponsors included Maxwell House Coffee, and the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs Division of the City of New York (now separated into Parks and Recreation and Cultural Affairs).
A 50th Year Anniversary Celebration of the Harlem Cultural Festival took place on August 14–17, 1969, in Harlem, hosted by Future x Sounds and City Parks Foundation Summerstage. The event featured musical performances by Talib Kweli, Cory Henry, Alice Smith, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Keyon Harrold, Braxton Cook, Freddie Stone (who performed at the original event), George “Spanky” McCurdy, Nate Jones On Bass, and was musically directed by Igmar Thomas. The event also featured conversations with Jamal Joseph, Felipe Luciano, Gale Brewer, Toni Blackman, Juma Sultan, Voza Rivers, among many others at Harlem Stage and the Schomburg.
In 2019, it was announced in numerous outlets that Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson will make his directorial debut with “Black Woodstock,” a feature documentary about the Harlem Cultural Festival.
Photo credit: 1) Via source. 2) Youtube video. 3) Poster from Wikipedia.