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Historic theater prepares for Black History Month

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Jacksonville's Ritz Theatre and LaVilla Museum has a colorful schedule for February 2010. 

From music to dance to spoken word, the Ritz team invites patrons to "celebrate black history month with Jacksonville's premier institution dedicated to African-American culture."

Fresh off the facility's tenth anniversary of its' full restoration in 1999, the Ritz plays a a significant part in the history of Northeast Florida.

The theater originally opened in 1929.  For decades, it served as an artistic hub for the culturally-rich LaVilla community formerly known as the "Harlem of the South". 

Serving as a launchpad for numerous entertainers like legendary Grammy® winner Ray Charles, the building became a movie house before waning interest and neighborhood changes forced operators to close its' doors. 

Today, the complex houses both the Ritz Theatre and the LaVilla Museum, a walk-through exhibit of the local African-American experience.

Ritz/LaVilla is a city property, and is run by a dedicated, on-site team who organizes and coordinates various activities year 'round.  Regular events include an amateur night competition and the popular all-city youth chorus, Ritz Voices.

The highlight of this year's black history month observance is a performance from celebrated jazz artist Rachelle Ferrell on February 13.

Admission prices and museum hours vary.  For more museum information, visit their official website, and get the black history month calendar from their City of Jacksonville page.

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