Founded by Dr. Marta Moreno Vega in 1976, the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) is a vibrant home for global afro-descendent cultural programming.
A multi-disciplinary center based in East Harlem, New York City, CCCADI integrates art, education, activism and conscious cultural tourism to foster social transformation. We document and present the creative genius of African Diaspora cultures; prepare the next generation of cultural leaders; and unite Diaspora communities.
CCCADI carries out its mission through public art exhibitions, performances, educational programs, workshops, conferences and international exchanges. We reach more than 20,000 people annually throughout New York City, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Europe.
CCCADI is regarded as a pioneer in elevating art and culture as a tool for social justice.
Our programs and educational philosophy are informed by Afro-Atlantic aesthetics and framework. We pride ourselves in being an accessible community resource and trusted bridge, linking afro-descendent artists and communities across the world. Our initiatives and audience reflect a kaleidoscope of global Black culture across the generations.
CCCADI is a social justice organization where African diaspora artists, activists, traditional leaders, policymakers, and communities meet to dialogue, heal, collaborate and build an equitable reality for Africans and African descendants across the world.
We envision a world that values and embraces a rich legacy of diverse African cultures. We work to create a world in which afro-descendent people:
Have access to culturally relevant arts education, training, and employment opportunities.
Are guaranteed equal rights and opportunities to make a sustainable living for themselves and their families.
Live in communities that are safe, healthy, beautiful and vibrant.
Leverage their cultural traditions as a source of wisdom, power, pride, healing and thriving.
Understand and engage with the global diversity of Black cultural expressions.
Use our creativity to empower our people as artists, thinkers and leaders within our homes, schools, and communities - and in our major cultural institutions that present our contributions to humanity.
We envision a New York City that recognizes the contributions of all and promotes cultural equity for communities of color through public policies and inclusive resource distribution.
Dr. Marta Moreno-Vega established the center in 1976, inspired by a vision to create an international organization to promote and link communities of African Descent. She has guided the capital campaign for the renovation of the landmark firehouse at 120 East 125th Street that is now the Center's new home. Dr. Moreno Vega has been an advocate for cultural equity, cultural studies, and education. As the second director of El Museo del Barrio, one of the founders of the Association of Hispanic Arts, Network of Centers of Color, and the Roundtable of Institutions of Colors, Dr. Moreno Vega has contributed to assuring that the contributions of African and African descendants are integral to the lives of civil society in the Americas. She has conducted research in Yoruba belief systems in the African Diaspora and has organized international conferences uniting scholars and traditional experts focused on expanding the knowledge and importance of sacred African Diaspora traditions. Moreno Vega, an adjunct professor at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, is co-founder of the Global Afro-Latino and Caribbean Initiative (GALCI), a former program of Hunter College/Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program. She is chief editor of Women Warriors of the Afro-Latina Diaspora (Arte Publico Press) and author of The Altar of My Soul (One World/Ballantine, 2001). She is director and co-producer of the documentary When the Spirits Dance.
CCCADI was founded by Dr. Marta Moreno Vega in 1976 as Latin@s were mobilizing for self-determination, racial justice and equity throughout New York City. Following years of international research throughout Africa and its Diaspora, Dr. Vega wanted to build a center where these cultures could be honored, explored and leveraged as a resource for social transformation. Incorporated as the Visual Arts Research and Resource Center Relating to the Caribbean, CCCADI's first home was donated space at the Phelps Stokes Fund on east 87th Street. The Fund's Director, Franklin H. Williams, a distinguished civil rights lawyer and former ambassador to Ghana, became Chairman of the Board. The Rockefeller Foundation provided a three-year seed grant. As a seed funder, Rockefeller helped to nurture and establish CCCADI as a preeminent international home for afro-descendent arts and culture in the Americas.
The mission of the center grew from the recognition that there was only limited information on the African and Native cultures of the Caribbean and Latin American countries. Soon, teachers, scholars, and artists were knocking at our doors, participating in building the vision that would become the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI).
For four decades, CCCADI has worked toward the cultural and socio-economic equity of African Diaspora communities in New York City and around the world. We have witnessed our work generate a deeper understanding of - and appreciation for- the complex tapestry and diversity of African Diaspora arts and culture.
CCCADI's work has always been at the vanguard, in line with the living tradition of Diasporic peoples as cultural innovators. The Center is widely acknowledged for popularizing the term and activating a movement for cultural equity and for promoting the use of the Diaspora in relation to African descendants. CCCADI has produced watershed moments in the presentation of innovative works performances, exhibitions, conferences and scholarship that highlight the uniquely African aesthetics evident in our global culture.
Throughout our history we have acted as an incubator and springboard for artistic and intellectual brilliance, community-building initiatives and cutting-edge academic research as the fuel for creative and artistic productions.
Memorable moments include:
- Presenting stellar artists such as Celia Cruz, Max Roach, Amiri Baraka, Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Cassandra Wilson, Hugh Masekela and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. CCCADI was the first presenter to place rap
- Music on stage at Lincoln Center, in 1989, with Queen Latifah, The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest and MC Lyte.
- Organizing international gatherings, such as the Orisha Tradition World Conference in Nigeria (1981), Brazil (1983) and NYC (1986), which convened global academics, spiritual leaders and practitioners of Yoruba sacred religious traditions for the first time in history.
- Curating many groundbreaking shows, such as Transforming the Crown: African, Asian and Caribbean Artists in Britain, 1966-1996 (1996), which amassed more than 100 works into an exhibition that was simultaneously on-view at CCCADI, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and The Bronx Museum of the Arts. The landmark exhibition became a model for institutional collaboration.
Launching the Mi Querido Barrio (My Beloved Community) augmented/virtual reality project and mobile app that engages local artists and youth in digitally landmarking East Harlem's rich history and cultural legacy. MQB successfully attracted funding from New York Community Trust; accolades from the National Trust for Historic Preservation; and was featured in the New York Times. Participating youth gained valuable skills to engage in the digital economy while advancing their artistic self-expression.