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.Afrofuturism Imagines the Future Through a Black Lens

Chabot Space & Science Center celebrates Black History Month with all-day cultural event

music in the park san jose

Black History Month also encompasses the future at the Chabot Space & Science Center on Feb. 24.

“Celebrate Black History Month: Afrofuturism,” an all-day event, will include the Hidden Genius Project, the Black Panther Party Legacy Alumni Network, storytimes with space themes and a multitude of presentations designed to partner with the community, according to CSSC Deputy Director Liz Austerman.

Per Center materials: “Afrofuturism is an activist aesthetic movement that imagines the future through a Black cultural lens. Through music, art, and storytelling, Afrofuturism imagines a just future rooted in Black liberation.”

Adding an event like this is part of the center’s expanding efforts to reach the whole East Bay community, “making [our] programming relevant to all,” Austerman said.

Kids of all ages can learn how to control and race a sphero robot in “Sphero Robotics” and/or see and play a demo of the new video game, “Surge Breaker,” with the Hidden Genius Project and its alumni group, Genius Gaming Studio.

In the rotunda, the Black Panther Party Legacy Alumni Network will offer limited edition merchandise, art prints, and books by original Black Panther Party artists and 10 contemporary artists creating artworks “in homage to the ideology of the original Black Panther Party.” In the mezzanine, the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce will showcase the range of services and opportunities available to its members.

Children’s storytimes include a reading of Stella’s Stellar Hair at 10:30am, in which a little girl visits her aunties “across the solar system” on her hoverboard in a search for the perfect ’do for the Big Star Little Gala. At noon, the storytime book will be Mae Among the Stars, a picture book about the inspiring story of Mae Jamison, the first Black woman to travel in space.

Three planetarium shows will offer a chance to visit the universe. At 11am, the 17-minute “Lunaverse” will take viewers on a trip to the Moon, as a young child asks the moon, Luna, about her origin, phases, eclipses and power over the tides.

At 2pm, the 28-minute “Forward to the Moon” features Kari Byron from Crash Test World and MythBusters showing how NASA’s Artemis project is the next step in space exploration, and will land the first person of color on the Moon. Then, at 3pm, “Passport to the Universe,” a 19-minute presentation, will allow viewers to “fly” beneath the rings of Saturn, float through the heart of the Orion Nebula and plunge into a black hole, as it examines “humanity’s place in the cosmos.”

CSSC Public Programs Coordinator Lillith Era pointed adult visitors toward a number of outstanding speakers during the event.

Filmmaker, visual artist and futurist Celia C. Peters will present “Afrofuturism: New Horizons in Blackness” at 11:30am in the theater. According to center materials, she’ll explore “how the Afrofuturism movement has blown up to become an iconic phenomenon… The futures we’ve all imagined are part of life today…what this means for the movement that celebrates the power and agency of the African Diaspora in futures defined by Black people themselves.” She will also introduce her feature film project, GODSPEED, an Afrofuturist thriller now in development.

At 12:30pm in the planetarium, Dr. Saturu Ned will speak about the origin and legacy of the Black Panther Party. Formerly known as James Mott, Ned was a member of the Lumpen, a legendary BPP musical group. He taught at the Oakland Community School, and continues to be a part of the Black Panther Party Legacy Alumni Network.

“Women Icons in Afrofuturism: Octavia E. Butler to Janelle Monae” will be presented in the theater at 2:30pm by Isis Asare, queer Afrofuturist and CEO/Founder of Sistah SciFi, the first Black-owned bookstore focused on science fiction and fantasy in the United States.

Focusing on the impact of African American women on Afrofuturism, Asare will discuss the pioneering work of Octavia E. Butler, the visionary science fiction writer whose themes of race, gender and identity paved the way for artists like Janelle Monáe.

‘Celebrate Black History Month: Afrofuturism,’ Feb. 24, 10am-4pm, Chabot Space & Science Center, 10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland. All admission tickets half-price; includes all programs. 510.336.7300. chabotspace.org/calendar/celebrate-black-history-month-afrofuturism/

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