Eight days of all things Black at a slimmed down Kuumba

By Stephen Weir

Sean Jones and the Righteous Echo

With Christmas 2022 now in our collective rear view mirror it is time to look ahead at some of the goings on at the 2023 Black Futures Month (Black History Month) celebrations at Harbourfront. Yesterday, the Camera talked to a spokesperson to get an update on the events Harbourfront will be presenting during the early part of February 2023.

Harbourfront traditionally stages a variety of Black History Month cultural events in February under the umbrella name of the Kuumba Festival. Last year Kuumba, because of Covid, was cancelled just as the festival was set to open. For its return this year to presenting in-person events they have slimmed down what used to be a month long Festival into an 8-day run at Harbourfront Centre February 3rd-11th.

Kuumba’s first announced big event is the February 3rd free screening of the award-winning movie Black Ice. The Canadian/American documentary was directed by Oscar nominee Hubert Davis and produced by Lebron James, Toronto’s Drake

When Sisters Speak

and Maverick Carter.

This true full-length film examines the history of anti-Black racism in hockey, from the segregated hockey leagues of the 1800s to the profession leagues of the 21st century. The movie won a Peoples’ Choice award at this year’s Toronto Film Festival.

The next day at the Harbourfront Centre is sure to be a drag. From 7.30 To 10 pm on the 4th of February there will be a ticketed event called DRAG: Hollywood Presents: DIVAS. This show is a celebration of the foundation of classic drag impersonation. DIVAS is a fully curated and choreographed show of outstanding drag artists who take on the likeness, mannerisms, costumes, hair, and makeup of the classic DIVAS they are impersonating.

On February 5th there will be a 3pm poetry event stage in collaboration with JAYU (a charity that believes the arts provide a platform to share human rights stories).  Called Letters to My Future Self, this is a free two-hour poetry performance featuring

Hollywood Jade Presents: DIVA

10 artists who write letters to their future selves.

On February 10th Sean Jones and the Righteous Echo will be performing at Harbourfront.  Marking both Black History Month and Valentine’s Day these stars backed by a stellar ten-piece band will deliver a night of classic and original songs to get the audience romantically inspired. There will also be an Afterparty Affair, a party with drop-in live performances.

The day after there will be an evening of poetry staged, dubbed When Sisters Speak. Described as being “beautifully raw and uncensored,” this is North America’s largest and longest-running showcase of Black, female and spoken word artists.  When Sisters Speak is a celebration of the experiences of Black women, featuring Canadian and American poets sharing the stage and their stories. Founded in 2000, When Sisters Speak continues to be curated, produced, and hosted by Scarborough Walk of Fame inductee Dwayne Morgan. 

There is no charge for admission to see Letters to My Future Self or the movie Black Ice.  Both the music show and the poetry evening are ticketed events ($20-$25).