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*On this date in 1969, the first performance played at the Harlem Cultural Festival. Also known as the Black Woodstock, this was a series of music concerts in Harlem, Manhattan, and New York City. The concerts celebrated African American music and culture and promoted the continued politics of Black pride.
Some artists included Nina Simone, B.B. King, Sly & the Family Stone, Chuck Jackson, Abbey Lincoln & Max Roach, The 5th Dimension, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, and Moms Mabley, among many others. For the concert featuring Sly & The Family Stone on June 29, 1969, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) refused to provide security provided by members of the Black Panther Party.
Producer Hal Tulchin filmed the full concert series, though most of the film remains commercially unreleased. New York's affiliate television station WNEW Metromedia Channel 5 (now FOX) broadcast hour-long specials of the footage on Saturday evenings at 10:30 PM in June - August 1969. Tony Lawrence, a New York nightclub singer, hosted and promoted the festival. The concerts occurred in Harlem's Mount Morris Park on Sundays from 3 PM from June 29, 1969, to August 24, 1969.
Sponsors included Maxwell House Coffee and the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs Division of the City of New York (now separated into Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs).
In 2021, a documentary of the festival with the original film and video footage premiered at the Sundance Film festival as Summer of Soul.