Celebrating diversity


This weekend marks the start of a nine-day exploration of African and African-American culture and history. The 2007 Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival kicks off Friday evening with a Florida Aquarium gala featuring a collection of 30 Florida Highwaymen paintings, live jazz, R&B, blues and Caribbean music, and plenty of tasty eats. United Skates of America's annual Tampa Soul Roll Invitational Skate Jam commences on Saturday, and the seven-year anniversary celebration of the Sunday Night Soul Roll — a weekly alcohol-free roller skate event for the urban public — features a "roll call" of skaters from around the United States. TBBHF's signature Street Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday at Al Lopez Park, and includes live music by local and national recording artists (S.O.S. Band, Ace Factor & Reunion Band, Wayman Tisdale), a drum line exhibition, food, arts and crafts. On Thurs. Jan. 18, Rev. Jesse Jackson gives a speech about the American dream at the USF Sun Dome. For a complete TBBHF schedule, call 888-224-1733 or visit tampablackheritage.org. Gala: Fri., Jan. 12, 7 p.m., 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa, $60 general/$100 V.I.P., 813-273-4000. Soul Roll: Jan. 13-14, midnight-4 a.m. Sat., 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Sun., 5121 N. Armenia Blvd., Tampa, $12 per night, 727-564-3357. Street Festival: Jan. 13-14, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun., 4810 N. Himes Ave., Tampa, free admission.

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