The Little-Known Story of Black Russians

This episode of CUNY TV’s “Independent Sources” looks at a documentary on the little-known migration of African Americans to Russia; the renovation and relocation of the nation’s leading Afro-Caribbean cultural center; and a Brooklyn-based fashion designer who found success when he set up shop online.

Director Yelena Demikovsky talks about the move of about 200 African-Americas in the 1920s and 1930s to Russia in search of a better life, the premise of her documentary “Black Russians: The Red Experience.” As she says in the trailer:

“This film is about dreams and dreamers. Those who believed they and their families deserved a life better than lynching and segregation.”

Why Russia? Did the African Americans face segregation when they arrived? Did the second generation go on to lead successful lives? Find out in the segment that starts at 1:04.

Back in October of last year, Manhattan Times reported that the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCADI) will move into a vacant fire station in East Harlem after purchasing the historic site on East 125th Street for just $1. In the segment starting at 14:45, the founder of CCADI, Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, and Desiree Gordon, director of the institute’s education and community programs, talk to “Independent Sources” about the multimillion-dollar renovation and how the new location will bring the center closer to the people it looks to serve. Said Dr. Vega:

“The cultural center was founded by me in 1976 and the idea of the cultural center is to make visible the contributions, the intelligence, the traditions of the Caribbean, of African descendants.”

Finally, it’s on to Brooklyn-based fashion designer Reuben Reuel who found a market for his women’s wear line thanks to social media and an online store. One of the career highlights for the designer, who works out of his Brooklyn basement apartment, was seeing Beyonce donning his designs. In the segment that starts at 22:10, find out his answer to “What has the Beyonce effect done for your line?”

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