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Sylvester Manor Educational Farm And Eastville Community Historical Society To End February With Annual Black History Month Event

Anastasia Lennon

Panelists: Henry Maxwell Letcher II, Shane Weeks, and Karl Schwarz.

This HarborFrost weekend, Sylvester Manor Educational Farm and the Eastville Community Historical Society will present their fourth annual panel in honor of Black History Month. This year's presentation, titled "Lift Every Voice: A Celebration of Music, Culture, and Tradition," will highlight the intersection of musical genres of various cultures through discussion with a diverse panel of musicians trained in African American and Native American music.

"This is a tradition that we like to do to honor Black History Month with programs focused on the East End and its history," explained Donnamarie Barnes - senior docent and archivist at Sylvester Manor. "We are dealing with musical tradition, and we're going to have representatives who are musicians and who are involved with music culturally and traditionally."

The event is on Sunday, February 25 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Bay Street Theater. The panelists are Henry Maxwell Letcher II, Shane Weeks, and Karl Schwarz. Letcher is a musician who has lived on the East End for many years; he has a background in jazz, drumming, and music production. Weeks is a member of the Shinnecock Nation who is experienced with traditional Native American drumming. He will be accompanied by other members of the Shinnecock Nation for a performance on Sunday. Lastly, Schwarz is a blues musician who specializes in traditional blues and gospel. He is currently a member of the New Moon Acoustic Blues Band.

Together, Schwarz, Letcher, and Weeks will educate the audience about the musical culture of African Americans and Native Americans through live performances, an interactive question-and-answer, and a discussion moderated by Dr. Georgette Grier-Key, the executive director at Eastville Community Historical Society. Dr. Grier-Key has moderated the event for the past three years, with previous panels considering diversity in food cultures and African American burial grounds, the latter of which Sylvester Manor Education Farm has on its grounds.

"I look forward to Sunday's much I anticipated event, that promises to be a cultural event steeped in heritage and tradition," shared Dr. Grier-Key. "I'm most excited about working with diverse panelists representing centuries old past folk art form and musicality of creating a universal humanity through the celebration of music."

Barnes hopes to see a good turn-out this HarborFrost weekend. "It's a February tradition that we've done in the past in Sag Harbor," she said. "It's nice to come together and listen to some good conversation about music and its place in our lives and our cultures. It's a nice diverse mix of people."

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door, with a reception to follow the main panel.

The mission of Sylvester Manor Educational Farm, which is on Shelter Island, "is to preserve, cultivate and share historic Sylvester Manor to ensure that food and art remain connected to community and the land." Eastville Community Historical Society's mission is to "preserve historic buildings and research, collect and disseminate information about the history of the Eastville area of Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York, County of Suffolk, State of New York, and one of the earliest known working class communities composed of African Americans, Native Americans and European immigrants."

Bay Street Theater is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, please visit http://www.baystreet.org/ or www.sylvestermanor.org.

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