To Our Global Family:
In the wake of another year’s commencement, an opportunity for renewed vision and intent, I’d like to take this moment to reintroduce you to the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI), an organization with a tremendously rich history, spanning nearly four decades, on the threshold of a momentous rebirth. I hope we can count on your support through this exciting journey.
As you may know, CCCADI values, connects and advocates for the traditions, history, culture and advancement of the African Diaspora. Through the dual tenants of arts and advocacy, CCCADI aims to create a paradigm shift within the global community toward cultural equity and social justice via new standards, policies and language. The Center has been, and will remain, an accessible community resource, a “first voice” institution, which produces culturally-grounded, purpose-driven and activist-oriented works, while simultaneously serving as a beacon of motivation and inspiration for many.
CCCADI’s work has always been at the vanguard, in line with the living tradition of Diasporic peoples as cultural innovators. Our work has helped transform a lexicon reflective of self-empowerment. For example, the Center is widely credited for coining the term “cultural equity” and for popularizing use of the word “Diaspora” in relation to African descendants. Additionally, we have produced watershed moments in the presentation of innovative works – performances, exhibitions, conferences and scholarship – that highlight the uniquely African aesthetics evident in our global culture.
Throughout our history we have acted as an incubator and springboard for artistic and intellectual brilliance, community-building initiatives and cutting-edge academic works presented in engaging ways. Of our most memorable moments:
• Presenting transcendent talent, such as Celia Cruz, Max Roach, Amiri Baraka, Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Cassandra Wilson, Hugh Masekela and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. CCCADI was the first presenter to place rap music on stage at Lincoln Center, in 1989, with Queen Latifah, The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest and MC Lyte. We knew then that hip-hop deserved a place on the world stage and that it would become the global phenomenon that it is today.
• Organizing international gatherings, such as the Orisha Tradition World Conference in Nigeria (1981), Brazil (1983) and NYC (1986), which convened global academics, spiritual leaders and practitioners of Yoruba sacred religious traditions for the first time in history.
• Curating many groundbreaking shows, such as Transforming the Crown: African, Asian and Caribbean Artists in Britain, 1966-1996 (1996), which amassed more than 100 works into an exhibition that was simultaneously on-view at CCCADI, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and The Bronx Museum of the Arts. The landmark exhibition became a model for institutional collaboration.
And now, CCCADI is on the verge of a tremendous transition as it relocates to East Harlem. Last year we were selected as the developers of a historic firehouse at 120 E. 125th Street, which we are currently renovating and will be opening to the public in 2015. This move places us strategically amidst the communities we aim to serve, while extending the rich cultural throughway of 125th Street eastward. Crafting a momentous symbolic bridge, this new location will allow CCCADI to connect the African and African American communities of West and Central Harlem with the Latino populations historically residing east of 5th Avenue.
Over the next year we will be launching a number of exciting initiatives that further our legacy of innovation. These will include:
• Mi Querido Barrio, an augmented reality project using cutting-edge technology to overlay virtual reality objects atop real-world views via mobile app. In the face of demographic shifts occurring in the area, the program aims to ensure that East Harlem is landmarked as a historical community with rich cultural legacies.
• The Apps Leadership Academy, a technological training program for high-school students and recent graduates to prepare them to enter and diversify the field of technological production. The program will equip youth to seek employment in Silicon Valley, while empowering them to play a role in the creation of the growing digital economy of Harlem and Upper Manhattan.
• Community Arts University Without Walls, a credit- and certificate-granting program launched in partnership with Inter American University in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This summer-intensive program will educate the next generation of cultural and community advocates.
• The Cultural Equity Group (CEG), an advocacy consortium that works toward achieving equitable funding and recognition for organizations of color from city and state legislation.
The year 2014 will usher-in many new beginnings. For all of us, the new year is a moment of renewed hope and refocused efforts. For NYC, we will see a change in the family of Gracie Mansion reflective of the racially diverse realities we now all live in, and hopefully a new administration that values the cultural contributions of all people in this city. In this welcome and optimistic moment of transition, I hope you will choose to support the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, its new home and its new work. CCCADI’s progressive vision continues to advance cultural equity and social justice, ensuring that the diverse legacies of the world and this culturally rich city are not only preserved, but advanced.
I look forward to us sharing with each other our newly forged pathways. As we know, the continued melding of our creative energies is the thread that binds our rich cultural tapestry.
I urge you to support us at this time. We are pleased to offer you gifts in recognition of your generous contribution. To learn more about these click here, or to go straight to our donate page click here.
Dr. Marta Moreno Vega
President & Founder
Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute
P.S. While we await the completion of renovations on our new home, we continue to present exciting works using Harlem as our stage. To see a full calendar of events, click here.