February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of achievements and rich contributions by African Americans in U.S. history. In this Rockaway Times month-long series, we give our readers a smattering of facts, events and films that serve as teaching moments for the entire family.
According to the book, “Between Ocean and City. The Transformation of Rockaway, NY” by Lawrence and Carol P. Kaplan: Although most African-Americans arrived in Rockaway during the northern migration of the 20th century, small numbers of black people have lived on the peninsula for hundreds of years. The Cornell family estate, established in the late 17th century, used slave labor. Almost from the very beginning of its resort history, Rockaway’s summer businesses, including the amusement parks and hotels, employed poorly paid black workers. Nonetheless, African-Americans were never seen in the white sections of town—the beaches or boardwalks, shops, restaurants, amusement parks, and play areas. During the first half of the 20th century, Rockaway Beach practiced segregation on a large scale. Though bars proliferated in Rockaway, there was only one, “Tip Inn,” that black people frequented.
Saturday, February 29
CELEBRATING THE LAST DAY OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Join Queens’ Parents Consultant and Advocacy Services as they close Black History Month by celebrating the culture of Far Rockaway’s Black Americans and Caribbean people with good music, great food and vibes at DredSurfer Bar & Grill. There will be a wide range of live performances including rap, drumming and singing.
DredSurfer, Beach 17th Boardwalk Concession
Saturday, February 29
8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Step inside Rustwoods’ heated bunker and be transported to the 1970s! Watch the 1972 horror blaxploitation classic, “Blacula,” on the big screen, plus 70s-themed costume party, go-go dancers and magic from magic maestro, Adam Cardone. Admission $10. Only 50 seats available, so it’s recommended to buy your tickets online at eventbrite.com, search: Blacula Extravaganza, or try your luck and purchase tickets at the door. Get ready for a spook-rrific night—70s style! (For more details, see article on page 18).
97-02 Rockaway Beach Blvd.
BELLE is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of British Admiral Sir John Lindsay. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield and his wife, Belle's lineage affords her certain privileges, yet her status prevents her from the traditions of noble social standing. While her cousin, Elizabeth, chases suitors for marriage, Belle is left on the sidelines wondering if she will ever find love. After meeting an idealistic young vicar's son bent on changing society, he and Belle help shape Lord Mansfield's role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England. Actress, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who plays the title’s character, sensitive yet valiant performance as a biracial aristocrat struggling to find love and acceptance, even in her own prejudiced home, grounds this eloquent movie. Available on Amazon and YouTube.
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