by Erin O'Hara , 06/15/2009
One hundred years after its birth, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is bringing it back to where it all began—New York City. And the timing couldn't be better for a centennial celebration, as America hails its first black president, Barack Obama, who is confirmed to address the convention. After 100 years of legendary legislation, protests, rallies and landmark Supreme Court victories (download a time-line of important events by clicking here), this historic anniversary is yet another milestone for an organization with a history full of them.
Fittingly, the NAACP came into being on the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth. Now, another hundred years later, the New-York Historical Society is in the middle of its Year of Lincoln. One of the bicentennial exhibits, Abraham Lincoln in His Own Words, features myriad fascinating documents, many in the president's own handwriting, from speeches and legislation to private letters and telegrams.
The NAACP Centennial Convention takes place through July 16, and the City is pleased to welcome the thousands of delegates and attendees, tourists and locals, and to lead in the celebration of this momentous occasion for New York City and the rest of the country. Many of the official convention events are open only to registrants, but the NAACP Author Pavilion is free and open to the public, and there are loads of other exciting events going on around the City during the convention. Be sure to stop by our Plan Your Visit page for tips about hotels, transportation and much more, and see our full events calendar for what do to around the City this week.
A Taste of Harlem Food and Cultural Tour
Harlem is a destination for foodies, and there's little wonder why. As this tour demonstrates on its 13-mile trip, the neighborhood features abundant soul food as well as Caribbean, African and Italian cuisines. Be sure to come hungry!
The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine
The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine—the world's largest cathedral—offers tours of its majestic architecture. The Highlights Tour gives a comprehensive overview of the art, architecture and history of the church. For a more in-depth and exciting view (and a good workout), take the Vertical Tour to the very top of the cathedral (via a spiral staircase) and out onto the roof for a special view. Or take the Spotlight Tour, which will show you, up close, all of the little details and unique aspects about the cathedral.
Through July 12
Harlem 1970–2009: Photographs by Camilo José Vergara
New-York Historical Society
Having experienced poverty growing up in his native Chile, documentary photographer Camilo José Vergara has always been interested in the rougher urban landscapes of the United States: Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and, of course, his current residence of New York. The exhibition is a visual timeline of Vergara’s experience in Harlem in that it demonstrates how the buildings and streets of the neighborhood grew and changed over the course of nearly four decades.
Through October 11
Summer on the Hudson: Kayaking on the Hudson
Riverside Park South, 10am
The Hudson River isn't only pretty to look at. Get on in! On weekends through October 11, volunteer organization Downtown Boathouse offers free river kayaking to anyone who can swim. Instructors provide the equipment and tutorials, so all you have to do is show up in a swimsuit or shorts and a T-shirt and strap on a life vest.
July 2009–August 2009
Jazzmobile, that top-notch jazz outreach organization, is famous for its summer mobile jazz concerts. And the Jazzmobile is just that: a trailer that opens up to become a stage, which brings concerts to schools, parks and block parties around the five boroughs and beyond. This season, our picks include the rollicking Frank Foster Big Band, performing at Grant’s Tomb; lady saxophonist Lily White, playing at Roosevelt Island; and the Duke Ellington Legacy Band (led by his grandson Edward), performing up on 106th Street.
Jazzmobile's "Great Jazz on the Great Hill," with George Gee, Arturo O'Farrill and Akiko Tsuruga
Central Park West and 106th Street, 2pm
"Great Jazz on the Great Hill" is one of many outdoor performances presented by Jazzmobile, which will be cruising around the boroughs all through July and August. This special afternoon of tunes features music from New Yorkers George Gee and Arturo O'Farrill, the first (and only) Chinese-American swing big band leader and the founder of the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, respectively, as well as Akiko Tsuruga, a Japanese woman who is quickly making a name for herself and giving even jazz men a run for their money.
"Multicultural Stories from Around the World"
City Island branch of the New York Public Library, 1pm
This event is perfect for the little ones. Visit City Island's New York Public Library branch for a special storytime featuring children's tales from a diverse range of backgrounds.
NAACP Author Pavilion
Hilton New York
This annual event at the NAACP Convention is a must for book lovers. The Author Pavilion is free and open to the public and allows guests to attend meet and greets, panels and book signings with their favorite authors and poets, or discover a new favorite altogether.
Children's Performance Series: Hayes Greenfield's Jazz-A-Ma-Tazz Goes Green
Riverside Park, 10:30am
Join Hayes Greenfield and his band in the great outdoors at Jazz-A-Ma-Tazz, part of Riverside Park's Summer on the Hudson event series. Jazz-A-Ma-Tazz is an interactive musical experience where children are encouraged to let loose, helping them express themselves and gain confidence. Children sing, dance and scat along to jazz renditions of old (or young) favorites.
The Robert Cray Band and the Sweet Divines
Celebrate Brooklyn!, Prospect Park Bandshell, 7:30pm
On July 17, the legendary, multi–Grammy Award-winning Robert Cray Band and local act the Sweet Divines share the stage for a night of silky-smooth soul. Both master the blend of nostalgic sounds of decades past with a funky modern edge.
Celebrate Brooklyn!, Prospect Park Bandshell, 2pm
King Sunny Adé headlines Celebrate Brooklyn!’s African Festival at the Prospect Park Bandshell on July 18. Adé, the worldwide ambassador of Nigerian juju music since the late '60s, is rightly famed for his joyful, tireless jam sessions.