Nelson Mandela Freedom Quote

Black Art has no boundaries or limitations. Its roots run deep through the histories of many countries and cultures, and its branches reach for the sky. The Dr. Walter J. Leonard Black Arts Festival was established sixteen years ago as a celebration of Black Art in its many forms. The annual festival, hosted by the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College, has featured song, dance, theatrical performance, film, and spoken word, among other mediums. And the depth and breadth of Black artistic expression has only grown.

This year, we proudly continue the tradition with “Reflections on Freedom.” Through The Arts, we will question: What is freedom, to the black community? Freedom was once broken chains and fertile land, a seat at a lunch counter, no exclusive sign on the door, a desk in an integrated classroom. Freedom has been a college degree, a job, a place to stay. But there is an abstract freedom, too: freedom from stereotypes and low expectations, the freedom of belonging, of self-worth, and the freedom to transcend the labels people have used to mask the beauty of color.

While most people believe that art is significant in its power to offer escape, we believe that art is most significant in its power to confront and challenge. During the festival we will challenge notions of blackness, art, and freedom. And with eyes on the past, the present, and the future, we hope by the end of our celebration, each person knows freedom intimately.

BAF events for the 2014-2015 year will be updated soon!

Much Love,
Cherline Bazile and Cecilia Sanders
Black Arts Festival Chair and Co-Chair, 2014-2015

For more information about BAF, email


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