The Empire State Plaza will come alive with a celebration of African American heritage on Saturday, Aug. 2, with African American Family Day scheduled from noon to 7 p.m.
The event is a part of the Summer At The Plaza series and has been taking place since the early 1980s.
• What: African American Family Day
• When: Saturday, Aug. 2, noon-7 p.m.
• Where: Empire State Plaza, downtown Albany
• How much: Free
• Info: www.empirestateplaza.org
“It’s a day for everyone to support and celebrate the traditions and contributions of New York’s African American community,” said Joe Brill, from Albany’s Office of General Services.
The day will kick off at noon with an opening ceremony featuring a performance by Giffen Outreach Community Choir from Giffen Memorial Elementary School. Throughout the day, various performers — gospel choirs, youth choirs, traditional African dancers, theater and poets — will take the stage.
“It’s about people coming here and learning about what the African American community has contributed to our society, and a big part of that is the music,” Brill said.
Jeffrey Osborne — the American funk and R&B songwriter, lyricist and former lead singer of the band L.T.D. known for his hits such as “Don’t You Get So Mad,” “Stay With Me Tonight” and “On the Wings of Love” — will round out the festivities at 6 p.m.
Although music is an integral part of African American culture, the festival will also feature a variety of foods and a special look into African American history.
“There will be computers set up where people will be shown how to find information about their ancestors online,” Brill said.
The computers provide access to Destination Heritage, where people can learn how to access the tools needed to investigate their ancestry and learn about local African American history, including the stories of some families in the region.
African American Family Day is centered on five principles — family, love, peace, unity and respect.
“The organizers wanted to ensure it will be a family-oriented event, so they chose to encourage these themes or principles that are highly valued among African Americans and all families as a way to bring the community together,” Brill said.
The event will include plenty of family-friendly activities including bounce rides, a petting zoo, face painting and pony rides.
New this year is a Scratch Academy, where kids will learn how to mix music and make turntable sounds. Also new to the program is the Wassa Pan Afrika Dance Ensemble, which includes 20 drummers and dancers, who will perform on stage and provide dance and drum instruction.
All performances will take place on one stage this year at the north end of the Empire State Plaza concourse. Brill said people are encouraged to bring chairs, as the museum steps are being repaired and will not be available. Free parking is available in the east garage off Madison Avenue, and $5 parking is available in the visitor or V-lot under the plaza. For event updates, people can follow @plazaevents on Twitter or call 474-0549.
The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.empirestateplaza.org.