*Long Beach-February is designated as Black History Month. During this time, communities all across the nation, celebrates the accomplishments, achievements and contributions of African Americans to the fabric of our awesome nation.

Sunday, February 8th, the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), held its annual Afro Latino Festival. This popular annual event, celebrates African heritage in the diaspora, with an emphasis on Latin America. The celebration was part of Target Free Sundays at MOLAA.

MOLAA: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

MOLAA: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Several hundred people were in attendance to partake in the day-long festival featured many inter-active festivities designed for the entire family, workshops, face paintings, plus live music and dance performances.

The day got under way with welcome greetings from Stuart Ashman, President and CEO of the Museum of Latin American Art. Rebecca Horta introduced each dance performance and band.

Geno Gamboa and Julio Cesar Batuarte demonstrated the Cajon, cajito; djembe drum and bongos, before inviting people on stage for a descarga (jam section).

Karen Menacho, Director of Matalache Danzas del Peru welcomed the crowd and stated that their program would feature Afro and Festivo (lively dances) during their in the spotlight.

Karen Menacho: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Karen Menacho: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

The Garifuna culture was on full display during the next segment of the program. Lidereibugu Garifuna Ensemble, Erica Zuniga, Cheryl Noralez, Artesha Welch, Roy Da Drummer, D0Bone, Rony Figueroa and Flavio Dixon Alvarez, took the crowd and I on a musical journey through the vibrant Garifuna community. Lidereibugu Garifuna Ensemble showcases the culture through traditional songs, drumming (on the primero and Segundo drum), and dance (folkloric and Punta). We were thoroughly entertained as they sing and dance to the following tunes “Yelifu”-(Hungu Hungu), “Mayahantina,” “Chumba,” “Wanaragua,” and “Punta.” The crowd got a little workout as the group combined Zumba, Punta, Calypso and meringue for a potent exercise section. Los Angeles is home to the second largest Garifuna community in the United States, behind New York. Garifuna’s reside in Honduras, Guatemala and Belize.

Lidereibugu Garifuna Ensemble: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Lidereibugu Garifuna Ensemble: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Lidereibugu Garifuna Ensemble: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Lidereibugu Garifuna Ensemble: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

The afternoon celebration continued in an upbeat, exciting mode. Boogaloo Assassins tuned up the heat with a set of pulsating, infectious and soulful boogaloo sounds. It didn’t take long for the dance flow to overflow with salseros gracefully moving to the popular Latin rhythms from Cuba, Puerto Rico and New York.

The Boogaloo Assassins kept people on the dance floor throughout their tight hour long set on the following tunes “Mi Jeva,” “No Te Vuelvo Querer,” “Right On,” “Que Pelota,” and “Bomba” just to name a few.

Boogaloo Assasins: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Boogaloo Assasins: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Boogaloo Assasins: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Boogaloo Assasins: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Boogaloo Assasins: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Boogaloo Assasins: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Boogaloo Assasins: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Boogaloo Assasins: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Please visit www.molaa.org for more information, in anticipation of your upcoming visit.

Ricky Richardson is a Southern California based writer, music reviewer and photographer. Contact him via: [email protected]