February is Black History Month, a nationally recognized annual celebration of the myriad achievements, contributions and legacy of African Americans throughout the history of the United States. The first official observance came from President Gerald Ford back in 1976 (over a hundred years after slavery was abolished) with every American president since not only continuing to designate February as Black History Month but endorsing a specific theme to go with it. According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, this year’s theme is “African Americans and the Arts.”
Fittingly, here on the South Fork the Eastville Community Historical Society in Sag Harbor is partnering with LTV Studios in Wainscott to host two multimedia events honoring the month-long observance, with respect to the central theme of Black people in the arts. Both are free and open to the public. The content of the events supported by the partnership between the two locales will be curated by Sal St. George, of Medford-based theater company St. George Living History Productions, and who for the past four decades specializes in bringing to life the history of some of the country’s greatest and most iconic people from the 20th century. St. George himself is “a multifaceted individual who wears many hats — playwright, comedy writer, theatrical director and historian,” says a press release from LTV.
“Georgette [Grier-Key, executive director and chief curator of Eastville] introduced us to Sal,” says Michael Clarke, executive director at LTV. “Through working with them we’re going to be able to bring something a little different to the community.”
The first of two events is tomorrow night at LTV beginning at 7 p.m.. Titled “Groundbreaking Black Comedians,” it will celebrate the contributions of eight comedians, particularly highlighting the “respective changes they made in the entertainment business over the years,” Clark says. Eddie Murphy, Nipsey Russell, Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, Godfrey Cambridge and Flip Wilson are among the legendary comedians to be discussed. St. George will be on hand in-person, offering both a lecture and video portion during his presentation.
Later on this month, St. George returns to LTV for the second event, “The Sidney Poitier Story,” set for Saturday, Feb. 25, also at 7 p.m.. Poitier has the distinction of being the first African American actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor back in 1964 and continued to remain a cultural icon, civil rights activist, a diplomat and well-respected human in general until his death in 2022. According to Clark, the event’s format will be exactly the same as the previous one, with St. George on hand to offer personally curated video and lecture material, followed by a Q&A with the audience.
LTV is located at 75 Industrial Road in Wainscott. For more information call 631-537-2777.