Nonprofit to Celebrate Afrofuturism With New Festival

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A festival celebrating Afrofuturism is set to be held soon in Tampa Bay. 

Hosted by the Pinellas Diaspora Art Project, a nonprofit dedicated to uplifting the work by Black and Brown artists in the Tampa Bay area, the “Tampa Bay Afrofuturism Festival” will be held for the first time on Nov. 11. Throughout the course of three days, discussion panels will be held on topics revolving the cultural aesthetic. 

On the first day, leaders- such as the founder of The Black Excellence Summit, Antonio Brown, and Katurah Jenkins Hall from the GRACE-Greater Reach Alliance of Counselors and Educators- will speak during the “The Journey: The Future of Black Tampa Bay” panel before attendees will get the chance to join Wakanda-themed social events. 

Day two will offer guests the chance to listen to discussions about tech while day three will cover health. Activities, such as a special STEM workshop for children and an AI digital art exhibit, will also be offered alongside musical performances by DJ Donnie Luv in a special Afrofuturist Funk and Costume Party. 

“The inaugural Tampa Bay Afrofuturism Festival, TBAFF, explores the past, present and future of Tampa Bay’s Black and Brown community through art, tech, music and soul,” wrote the nonprofit in an Instagram post. “In an ever-more technologically constructed environment, TBAFF creates opportunities for soul-enhancing, wellness-focused social engagements with a focus on youth and families.”

Although it received its official name in 1993 in an essay by Mark Dery, the idea of Afrofuturism was already established well before that. Spanning across mediums like art, dance, literature and art, Afrofuturism became a way for Black Americans to explore both the past and future through their experiences. 

Perhaps one of the most influential figures to pioneer Afrofuturism is writer Octavia Butler. As a science fiction writer, a genre she developed an early interest in at the age of 12, Butler explored ideas of dystopian societies while making political commentary through her work. Amongst the topics she explored are Black injustice, global warming as well as women’s rights.

Through her work, Butler has been credited with prophesying several issues that now exist in the 21st century. In her 1993 novel “Parable of the Sower,” she penned the story of a young Black woman navigating her way through a post-apocalyptic world struggling both with a dying environment and a political demagogue. 

Now, Butler’s writing is taught regularly at more than 200 universities. In addition to “Parable of the Sower,” her works include “Kindred,” “Mind of My Mind” and “Dawn” amongst other titles.

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