Photo Credit: Jake Ryan
NYC Roller Skate Week Celebrates Black Joy And Historic Contributions
Yes, this is a real thing. New York City will host its inaugural roller skate week April 23-30, 2021. The week, founded by Showfields and the African-American Roller-Skate Museum (AASM), will celebrate Black joy while also bringing more awareness to the historical contributions Black people have made to the sport.
It seems that since the start of the pandemic, everyone has ordered a pair of skates to be a part of the heightened social media trend. But, skating has been in the Black community for decades. In fact, there’s now an entire online museum dedicated to it. The AASM is on a mission to “curate roller skate culture, through the lens of the Black experience.”
Founded by Jocelyn Goode in February 2021, the museum will advocate for public city, state and national funds to support the return of roller-skating rinks in communities densely populated by African-Americans, and sustain them as permanent places of roller-skating accessibility to all people.
“For the African-American skate community, which is struggling to receive equal representation, and acknowledgement for their historic contributions to roller-skating, this collaboration serves as a shining example of possibility, and hopefully will encourage other brands to follow suit,” Goode said in a statement.
According to the AASM’s website, throughout the 1960s, roller-skating rinks remained segregated and many did not permit African-Americans entry or only allowed them to skate one night a week during “Soul Night”, “Martin Luther King Night” or “Adult Night”.
Additionally, roller-skating rinks played a key role in the development of rap music and culture. During the 1980s and 1990s, emerging rap artists experienced discrimination in securing performance venues. The roller-skating rinks were some of the first spaces for rap artists like N.W.A, Queen Latifah and Salt-N-Pepa to perform in front of live audiences.
NYC Roller Skate Week 2021
Taking place at Showfield’s NYC Bond Street store location, this celebration will feature an indoor skate and art show, groups skates, lessons for those wanting to learn how to dance on skates for their future rink debut, as well as panel discussions with roller skate businesses.
A presentation film of the African-American Roller-Skate Museum, and how it came to be and its significant importance to black history will be shown. Attendees can also see a special screening of HBO Max’s award-winning documentary “United Skates.”
To learn more about the AASM or NYC Roller Skate Week, visit www.afamrollerskatemuseum.org.