Black History Month Florence was founded by Justin Randolph Thompson and Andre Halyard in collaboration with Andre Salvatore Mi in 2016 as a cross venue initiative designed to highlight the cultures of African Diasporic communities in the city of Florence and throughout Italy more generally. The scope of the project is to broaden the understanding of history and contemporary culture within an ever more diversified Italian setting. Art, Theatre, Music and Literature were the points that we chose to focus on through 16 events that took place throughout the month of February. Janine Gaelle Dieudji has joined our team for the second edition overseeing logistics and coordination.
Justin Randolph Thompson__Co-Founder and Director of Black History Month Florence
President of the Associazione Culturale BHMF
‘You won’t be naming no building after me… to go down dilapidated’
Justin Randolph Thompson is a new media artist, organizer and educator born in Peekskill, NY in ’79. Living between Italy and the US since 2001, Thompson is a Co-Founder and Director of Black History Month Florence. Justin's work and scholarship engages local communities as living yet fleeting monuments. Thompson teaches art at several universities and develops strategies for the initiation of annual and biennial cultural projects of international collaboration. His art has been exhibited internationally in venues such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Reina Sofia, the American Academy in Rome and more. Thompson is the recipient of numerous awards including the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, a Franklin Furnace Fund Grant and a Visual Artist Grant from the Marcelino Botin Fundation.
Janine Gaëlle Dieudji_Co-Organizer and Vice President of the Associazione Culturale BHMF
Janine is a "multilocal" art agitator and facilitator based between Florence, Paris and Marrakech. Since 2017 Gaelle has co-organized and led BHMF initiating a broad spectrum of projects and collaborations. Currently the Exhibitions Director of the Musée d'Art Contemporain Africain Al Maaden she works as an external advisor/collaborator for the production and development of cultural events and festivals of Art and Cinema in Florence and beyond. She also assists artists in the development of work and the increase of visibility by connecting them with other art professionals, collectors and press media.
Andre Halyard__Co-Founder BHMF
Andre Halyard a.k.a. DRE LOVE, born in “Queens”, New York is a bandleader, DJ, marketing strategist, singer and trendsetter based in Florence for the past quarter of a century. Traversing the worlds of music and fashion Halyard co-founded Black History Month Florence with Justin Randolph Thompson co-coordinating its first edition. Musically Dre has collaborated on numerous projects including: Radical Stuff, Neffa e i Messaggeri della Dopa, DJ Enzo, Gopher D, Reggae National Tickets, Irene Grandi, Almamegretta and Alex Britti, amongst others. Conscious rhymes, acid-rap improvisation, funky grooves, soulful and intimate vocals live together in his music, made up of tributes to the Afro-American tradition and the European electronic experiments.
Matias Mesquita_ Consultant BHMF
Matias Mesquita is President at Casa de Angolana Italia and Director Kibaka Florence Festival di Cinema Africano and the Associaçao Angolana Njinga Mbande. Rallying around African Students in Florence and connecting various African Communities, Mesquita directs the Week of Afro-Descendents and has been programming and consulting for BHMF since 2017.
Andrea Salvatore Mi__Communications Consultant
Andrea Salvtore Mi started djing in 1990 broadcasting radio shows for the italian Popolare Network focused on the international electronic scene. The inspirations for his sound start from dub and hip hop and move to bass music, digital dub, dubstep, wonky, ghetto tech, uk funk, beats... he used to call his sound "from dub to club". Playing regularly in some of the best italian clubs and festivals but also in some of the worst, Andrea has played longside Smith&Mighty, Daddy G, Mala, Jazzanova, Soul Jazz Sound System, Caribou, Dj Vadim, Akufen, Coldcut, David Rodigan, Questlove, and many others…
Currently the resident dj for “Vibranite” events at the Auditorium Flog in Florence and part of different dj teams “Ragnampiza", "Off_Beatz" and "Music Pollution".
'Mixology' is his personal weakly radio show. Featuring exclusive mixes and interviews with the most relevant and cutting edge international artists, Mixology takes musical snapshots of music that is moving forward.
Ilaria Biccai and Olivia Kasa_ Graphic Design team
Ilaria Biccai and Olivia Kasa are both recent graduates from the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Florence and developed the designs and logos for the 2017 edition of Black History Month Florence and have elaborated a catalogue from the 2017 edition that was released in 2018. The two Designers are currently working to advance the 2019 BHMF look.