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Gantt Center Hosts Children's Film Festival Featuring Fresh Prince of Bel Air Actress Karyn Parsons

Former actress-turned-advocate to visit Charlotte March 23 and 24

The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture will host its inaugural Children’s Film Festival as part of the monthly Family First Presented by Novant Health series on Saturday, March 24, 2018. The festival, led by former The Fresh Prince of Bel Air actress-turned-education advocate Karyn Parsons, begins at 1:00 p.m., featuring short, animated films about key figures in African-American history. The stories were developed by Parsons’ nonprofit organization, Sweet Blackberry to create inspirational experiences that tell the empowering narratives of African-Americans overcoming insurmountable odds in the arts and sciences. The featured films bring to life the legacies of Virginia slave Henry “Box” Brown who mailed himself to freedom in Philadelphia; America’s first prima ballerina Janet Collins; and traffic light inventor Garrett Morgan. Each feature is narrated by acclaimed actors including Queen Latifah, Chris Rock and Alfre Woodard. 

“The Gantt Center is committed to sharing African-American history throughout the year, not just in February, and we are delighted to introduce a Children’s Film Festival as part of our Family First Presented by Novant Health programming,” says David Taylor, Gantt Center President & CEO. “Our goal is to provide high quality, family-friendly events, workshops and activities that reflect the unique perspective of the African-American experience, and we invite the community to come and join us for this event.”

Parsons will share insights and answer questions after each film. Admission to the festival is $5 for adults, $3 for children ages six and up. Admission is also free for children five years and under and Gantt Center members. Advanced registration is required for the films.  The day also includes free, on-site activities for children of all ages.

Additionally, Parsons will also host a film discussion with students at Renaissance West STEAM Academy on Friday, March 23, 2018. Visit for event details and to RSVP for the feature films.


Sweet Blackberry’s The Journey of Henry Box Brown takes a magical look at the historic, true tale of Henry “Box” Brown, an enslaved  man who mailed himself to freedom in a wooden box from a plantation in Richmond, Virginia to freedom in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1848. Narrated by Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated actress Alfre Woodard, this animated story uses entertaining verse to share Henry’s story.

Sweet Blackberry’s Garrett’s Gift tells the inspiring story of African-American inventor Garrett Morgan. As a young boy, Garrett doesn’t know what he’s good at and he always seems to be getting into trouble. Upon moving to the big city, Garrett witnesses a series of collisions. His creative thinking and imagination lead him to invent the traffic signal.  Illustrated by Coretta Scott King award-winner R. Gregory Christie, and narrated by Queen Latifah, Garrett’s Gift will encourage young and old alike to expand their imagination and creative mind.

Sweet Blackberry's Dancing in the Light tells the inspiring story of the first African-American prima ballerina, Janet Collins. Janet loved to dance, and she especially loved ballet! Narrated by actor and comedian Chris Rock, Dancing in the Light teaches us that we can be anything we set our minds to, even after being told that we are not the current model for success. Dancing in the Light is illustrated by Coretta Scott King award-winner R. Gregory Christie, animated by Pixel Pirate Studio, and features original music by Chris Joyner.


Held monthly at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, Family First consists of art-making workshops that provide creative time for families. Adults and children are invited to participate in a range of discussions, workshops and experiences sometimes inspired by current exhibitions at the Gantt Center. 


The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture is a multi-disciplinary arts institution located in the heart of Charlotte, North Carolina. Founded in 1974, the Gantt Center’s mission is to present, preserve and celebrate excellence in the art, history and culture of African-Americans and those of African descent through visual and literary arts, dance, music, film, educational programs, theatre productions and community outreach. The Gantt Center features fine art exhibitions from around the world and is home to the nationally celebrated John and Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American Art, which was generously donated by Bank of America, and is accessible online.

Named for Charlotte civic leader and former mayor Harvey Bernard Gantt, the Gantt Center is housed in an inspired and distinguished award-winning structure designed by architect Philip Freelon, co-designer of the new Smithsonian National Museum for African American History and Culture. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Novant Health is a not-for-profit integrated system of 15 medical centers and 1,514 physicians in 529 locations, as well as numerous outpatient surgery centers, medical plazas, rehabilitation programs, diagnostic imaging centers and community health outreach programs. Novant Health's over 25,000 team members and physician partners care for patients and communities in North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia.

Posted on Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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