Operation Unite to Host Hudson’s First Virtual Sankofa Black Arts and Cultural Festival

Sasha Allen

(HUDSON, N.Y.) –  The first Virtual Sankofa Black Arts and Cultural Festival in Hudson will take place from Saturday, August 15, to Monday, August 31, 2020. The festival will include Sankofa Forums, with topics including education, racism, people of color in the entertainment industry, fitness and health, history on the river, entertainment, and the Sankofa Sunday Message.

Beginning on Thursday, August 13, mural artist Danielle Mastrion of Brooklyn, N.Y., will work on a Sankofa Mural  at the corner of 4th and Warren streets, incorporating creative ideas from Unite’s Youth in Action and Columbia Greene Community College’s Summer Workforce youth. Mastrion is a Brooklyn-born, New York City-based painter and muralist. Danielle’s work has a focus on social justice, specifically women’s rights and youth education. Mastrion works with many schools, women’s shelters, teaching organizations, and conservation organizations. Her latest walls can be found throughout her home neighborhood, Coney Island, the New York Aquarium, and other locations.

Sasha Sierra Allen, an American singer and actress born and raised in Harlem, will inaugurate the virtual proceedings with the singing of the Negro National Anthem. In addition to touring with the Rolling Stones, Allen has been a backing vocalist for the likes of Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Leona Lewis, and Usher. Reverend Iris Wardell will introduce the festival, followed by both live and video sessions weekly.

Taja Lindley

Presenters include Yvette Taylor Jordan, educational consultant Dr. Leah Z. Owens, author, inter-cultural communicator and educator Kimberly Erwin, author-historian Janise Laboard, fitness and health specialist Ayanna Elohim, “Confidence Creator” fitness coach Emel Mosley, choreographer/dancer Kyle Marshall, singer-actress-dancer Ariana Debose (Hamilton, So You Think You Can Dance), choreographer/dancer Marcus McGregor, theater artist and filmmaker Tanisha Christie, performing artist/activist Taja Lindley, cosmic soul singer Lady Moon, African and African-American-oriented Harambee Dance Company, Wynton Marsalis sideman Zorkie Nelson’s West African Dancers and Drummers, and visual artists Chiarra Hughes, Ifetayo Cobbins, Pamela Badila, Nkoula Badila, and Lucy Welch. Continuing with tradition, Reverend Kim L. Singletary will bring the Sunset Service Sankofa message on Sunday, August 30, at 7pm, along with guest choirs.

Tanisha Christie

History professor Hasan Kwame Jeffries, coach and leadership trainer Dr. Meno Fombo, and mental health activist Melanie Funchess will appear in educational videos, in addition to age-appropriate videos for children.


Every Monday, an updated, detailed schedule will be posted on the Hudson Sankofa Festival FB page  and the Operation Unite website.


The Hudson Sankofa Virtual Black Arts and Cultural Festival is curated by Elena Mosley with technical assistance and design by videographer/film maker JD Urban.  Funding has been made possible by Hudson Tourism Board and Operation Unite New York.


Operation Unite New York is an education and cultural arts center promoting positive development for youth through education, the arts, cultural, social, and recreational activities in the Hudson Valley.

For more information, messages can be left at 518 828-3612. Due to the pandemic, office hours are limited and staff will return your call as soon as possible.




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