The Afropunk Festival (commonly referred to as Afropunk or Afropunk Fest) is an annual arts festival that includes live music, film, fashion, and art produced by Black artists. The festival made its debut at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in 2005 and has since expanded to other parts of the world. Originally co-founded by James Spooner and Matthew Morgan, the festival was inspired by Spooner’s 2003 documentary film Afro-Punk, which spotlighted Black punks across America and later culminated in a series of live shows entitled “The Liberation Sessions”, co-curated by Spooner and Morgan.
The festival originally sought to provide Black people an opportunity to build community within the predominantly White punk subculture and to provide a stage for Black alternative performers that were not acknowledged in the mainstream and stood outside hip hop, R&B, soul, etc.
To attract a wider audience, the festival shifted to include soul music and hip hop, which expanded its target demographic, attracting headliners including Ice Cube, Lauryn Hill, Lenny Kravitz, and Gary Clark, Jr. Musical performers now represent a variety of genres, primarily known to reflect African American culture.
The festival has expanded to other cities (Paris, London, Johannesburg) and attracts over 70,000 mostly Black people each year.
- Brittany, Spanos. 2015. “Lenny Kravitz, Lauryn Hill, Grace Jones to Headline AfroPunk NYC.” RollingStone.
- Josephs, Brian .2015. “Is Afropunk Fest No Longer Punk?” VICE.
- Maloney, Devon. 2013. AfroPunk Started With a Documentary, Village Voice.