Story by Yolande Brener
“People ask is there any link between the Irish and African Americans,” said Nik Quaife, Director of Communications and External Affairs at the Irish Arts Center in New York. “In fact there’s a four-hour series of links. This is the fourth and possibly final installment in this particular series (Two Roads Diverged) which is specifically about African Americans and the Irish in Harlem.”
At this event, Lenwood Sloan, facilitator of cultural and heritage programs, and Dr. Mick Moloney, global distinguished professor of Irish studies and music, will discuss Irish and Black contributions to American culture. A guest pianist, vocalist and dancers will illustrate points from the discussion.
Black and White and Green: St. Patrick’s Day in Harlem will examine the relationship between these two immigrant communities, and it seems that initially there was more rivalry than concord. In the late 19th and early 20th Century, they found themselves competing with each other for jobs and territory. But according to Brad Learmonth, Director of Programming at Harlem Stage Gatehouse, they had more in common than not in a history dating back to the 1600s.
“Everything that we do (at Harlem Stage) is about enriching our understanding of our humanity and our interconnectivity,” said Learmonth. ” What we’re exploring here is a very rich history of two people who were thrown together in often the direst of circumstances: indentured servitude and slavery, or just need to get out of their homeland and come here because there’s nothing left there for the Irish. The relationship evolved into one of the rivalries of the 2oth Century, which we explore in this discussion. You begin to sense that this otherness belongs to us all in different contexts and yet we’re basically the same.”
The Irish Arts Center has a variety of events for St. Patricks’ Day. Mick Moloney is leading a cast of over 70 performers in Celtic Appalachia II at Symphony Space on Saturday and Sunday is the Annual St. Patrick’s Open Day, a family friendly event including face painting, music, dance and harp playing demonstrations.
For their Book Day on Friday March 15th, the Irish Arts Center will give away thousands of books by Irish and Irish American authors to commuters across the five boroughs.
“This is an attempt to show New York that St. Patrick and the Irish don’t just celebrate by dressing in green and drinking,” said Quaife. “With the wealth of artists and writers that we’ve had over the years, we’re very lucky that as a small nation we’ve punched well above our rate for literary giants, including Joyce, Beckett, Wilde and Yeats.”
Two Roads Diverged: Black and White and Green is at Harlem Stage Gatehouse on Tuesday March 12th at 7pm.
“You’re definitely going to be entertained by the dialogue,” said Learmonth. “Anyone with an ounce of curiosity will come away from this saying, There’s so much information and we’ve only touched a tiny bit of it here.”
Photo credit courtesy of Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations; and Erin Baiano.
- Harlem Stage And The Irish Arts Center Takes A New Look At St. Patrick’s Day in Harlem (harlemworldmag.com)
- Hartford And New Haven Mark St. Patrick’s Day With Parades (connecticut.cbslocal.com)
- Music Choice Celebrates St. Patrick’s Day (prweb.com)
- St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago: A Guide for the Best Things to do on St. Patrick’s Day 2013 in Chicago by ChicagoTraveler.com (prweb.com)