COVID-19 is keeping the event socially distant, but that's not stopping the Aquarium of the Pacific from putting on its annual African American Festival on Saturday, Feb. 27.
The event is happening online for free, accessible from the aquarium's website.
The celebration starts at 10 a.m. sharp with traditional West African storytelling by Baba the Storyteller. Baba returns to perform at the event each year, and while this year's event is virtual, the stories will still be told.
At 10:45 a.m., PISE (Positive Images of Self Expression) will take the center stage for tap and modern dance. Following the dance at 11:30 a.m. is "A Celebration of African and African-American History."
After a quick break, Dembrebrah with display West African drumming and dancing. At 1 p.m. the LA LA Mardi Gras Second Liners will join aquarium staff in presenting animals native to African states.
At 1:45 p.m., Los Angeles breakdancing and popping crew, Homeland Crew, will showcase their moves to the virtual audiences and at 2:30 p.m., Long Beach's own Per Se, a pop fusion music group, will dish out some soulful tunes.
At 3:15 p.m., the Heritage Award will be presented to Long Beach's Felton Williams for his service to the city's and area's African American communities. Williams served on the Long Beach Unified School District board for 16 years in addition to his many decades served as a professional educator. He stepped down from the board last year.
Following the award, the 2021 African American Scholar recipients will be announced. Finalists for the African American Scholar Program are students who have dedicated their studies to careers in the aquarium field.
This scholarship is funded through donor support. Folks can make a donation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to a matching gift from an anonymous donor, gifts will be matched up to $10,000, officials said.
The Aquarium of the Pacific's Virtual African-American Festival will be streaming live at pacific.to/africanamericanfestival from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27. Reservations are not required, and viewing is free.