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Naturally ‘18: A Tribute to the Grandassa Models Pioneers of the “Black Is Beautiful” Movement

Saturday, 9/22/2018 – The Dwyer Cultural Center in Harlem

      NEW YORK, NY –   In 1962, what started as a one-off “fashion show” became a significant celebration of African-American beauty; the Grandassa Models had arrived.

 EVENT:  On Saturday, September 22, 2018, the Dwyer Cultural Center and the Elombe Brath Foundation in affiliation with Harlem Arts Alliance presents NATURALLY ’18, a Tribute to the Grandassa Models, pioneers of the “Black Is Beautiful” Movement.

 WHERE:   The event will be held at the Dwyer Cultural Center, 258 St. Nicholas Avenue (Entrance on West 123rd Street). Tickets are $40 each.   Proceeds from the event will benefit the Dwyer Cultural Center and the Elombe Brath Foundation. For ticket information, please call 212-410-7892.

 TIME:  6 PM – 10 PM

 BACKGROUND:  In 1962, the late Elombe Brathwaite, renown photo-journalist and his brother photographer Kwame Brathwaite, with the support of others like Sikolo Brathwaite, decided to add a fashion show element to their African Jazz Art Society and Studios (AJASS) cultural evenings. This was the start of the “Black is Beautiful” slogan and the birth of the Grandassa Models, a group of black women who wore African clothing and natural hair, hence the title of each show “Naturally”.

Ann Tripp, News Director for the Steve Harvey Show and WBLS/WLIB Radio and a former Grandassa model said,” becoming a Grandassa Model, became an important turning point in her life as a black woman in America.”  “Tripp mentioned that they were forerunners of the current revival in the natural hair movement.”  The Grandassa started with eight women, but grew to include women like Tripp, Abbey Lincoln, Mari Toussaint, and many others. “As Grandassa models this group of black women felt they were ambassadors of their race because ‘we tried to make black people feel proud of who they were, no matter what complexion or hair type, “Tripp adds.

Sikolo Brathwaite, former Grandassa Model and Director of the Elombe Brath Foundation, was reflective of the “Black is Beautiful” Movement. “She said “this event is bringing us back together. There was a political aspect to the Grandassas. It was about understanding who we are globally. The way you dressed and wore your hair was political. The Grandassas affirmed us. When you think of the young ones, you realize that when you affirm to children who they are, they can accomplish anything.”   For further information, please call 212-410-7892 or visit thedywyercc@gmail.com.


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