port of harlem magazine
port of harlem gambian education partnership
Susana Esther Baca de la Colina

ug 24 – Sep 06, 2023
Praising the Past

susana baca

The Honoree

It is not unusual for Susana Baca concert goers to witness the singer-songwriter, schoolteacher, folklorist, ethnomusicologist, and three-time Latin Grammy Award winner perform shoeless. The trail blazer and keeper of the culture has also been a key figure in the revival of Afro-Peruvian music.

Over the decades, Baca traversed Peru, recording in rural areas to gather material from elderly singers with many of the songs having roots in enslaved communities. She and Richard Pereira, her husband, founded the Center for Black Continuum, an organization dedicated to promoting Black music and dance. In July 2011, when Baca became Minister of Culture, she became the second Afro-Peruvian cabinet minister in the history of independent Peru.


According to the 2017 Peruvian Census, 828,841 or 3.6% Peruvians identified as "Black", the term used for people of unmixed African descent, while together with the Mulatos and Zambos they would be a total of 9% of the Peruvian population (2,850,000). The departments with the largest percentage of Black people are Tumbes (11.5%), Piura (8.9), and Lambayeque (8.4%).

brazil on a map

The Artist's Creative Explanation

“I photographed and met Susana Baca several times including at the 2013 Panama Jazz Festival. I also photographed her in Washington, D.C. and in her home in Peru. From our conversations, we created a friendship and my knowing something about her. When I took this picture, I felt using color film would be a distraction from the viewer also getting to know her. With color gone, the image is purely about you looking into her eyes and making a connection with Ms. Baca.”

blond aborigine

- Photographer Jonathan French's most famous photograph published in Port of Harlem - that of a naturally blond Aboriginal

(French Does Not Have His Picture Taken)

About "From These Shores"

From These Shores celebrates the accomplishments of 18 known and lesser-known Africans in the diaspora across time and geography. The 12 panels hang at the Juffureh Slavery Museum, The Gambia and online. Timbooktoo Bookstore in New Bakau, The Gambia and Mansa Musa Restaurant in Takoma Park, MD USA each display one of the panels.
Return to this issue's Main Page
sign up

follow us on
facebook instagram twitter youtube
Advertisers | Contact Us | Events | Links | Media Kit | Our Company | Payments Pier
Press Room | Print Cover Stories Archives | Electronic Issues and Talk Radio Archives | Writer's Guidelines