The Harlem Cultural Festival

By Linda Speckhals
Source: (The Everett Collection/Pop Sugar).

In the Summer of 1969, Woodstock became the music festival to remember. At the time, other youth-oriented festivals, like Monterey and Newport were starting to appear. The Harlem Cultural Festival, with its six free shows from June 29 to August 24, 1969, was different; it appealed to a large cross-section of the community, drawing families and churchgoers as well as the youth of New York City. The Harlem Cultural Festival celebrated African American music and culture. Just as Woodstock showcased iconic musicians, the Harlem Cultural Festival featured the performances of some of the greats: B.B. King, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and Stevie Wonder were among those to perform during the festival, with performances on Sundays at 3 p.m. in Harlem’s Mount Morris Park (which is now Marcus Garvey Park). The six shows had a combined attendance of close to 300,000, rivaling that of Woodstock.

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