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Afro-Latino Festival Expands to Three-Day Celebration in Brooklyn, Harlem

 Dancers from the first Afro-Latino Festival in 2013.
Dancers from the first Afro-Latino Festival in 2013.
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Mai-Elka Prado

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Musicians, dancers and artists are taking their Afro-Latino history to the streets this summer.

The city’s third annual Afro-Latino Festival returns this year for a three-day celebration reaching Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Harlem.

First started in 2013, the event offered a one-day showcase of the African Diaspora’s culture, art and history at a plaza in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens.

This summer’s festival expands to a weekend in July to accommodate new conferences, talks, concerts and street fairs in neighborhoods with large Afro-Latino populations, said organizer Mai-Elka Prado.

“We wanted to bring people together not only with the musical, folkloric element, but also the cultural and networking opportunities that the festival gives to the community,” Prado said.

“We were welcomed so much that the demand of the people became so great — we had so many applications for artists and bands that just one day wouldn’t be enough.”

The festivities kick off on July 10 at Harlem’s MIST performing arts theater, where an opening gala will feature South African treats, art exhibitions, community achievement awards and musical performances from artists including Cuban hip-hop singer Danay Suarez.

Panel discussions will be held the following day at Williamsburg’s Cubana Social and The Wick in Bushwick. Topics will cover issues such as heritage, digital technology and representations in the media.

The weekend culminates in an outdoor concert and street fair at Bed-Stuy’s Restoration Plaza, where the all-female Afro-Brazilian BatalaNYC drum line is expected to perform, along with R&B band Les Nubians.

Attendees can also enjoy a free documentary screening of “Celia: The Queen” along with other performances at St. Mary’s Park in The Bronx on July 12.

The 2015 Afro-Latino Festival coincides with the “International Decade for People of African Descent,” as declared by the United Nations.

For further details and full list of performers and speakers, visit the festival website here.