Poet and activist Sojourner Kincaid Rolle speaks at a candlelight vigil for Babatunde Folayemi, Sunday April 1, 2012
Paul Wellman

Dozens of people gathered for a candlelight vigil in honor of Babatunde Folayemi at the Chumash mosaic on Cabrillo Boulevard Sunday night.

An activist on behalf of disaffected youth — in particular the children and grandchildren of the working-class poor — and a dedicated mentor to many, Folayemi died unexpectedly but peacefully on Wednesday, March 28, of complications from an enlarged heart.

Speakers praised Folayemi as an uncommonly eloquent advocate, a “radical man,” and a peacemaker, and they shared humorous anecdotes for almost two hours. Mayor Helene Schneider was among those who spoke of Folayemi’s persistence, for example in pushing for the opening of the Twelve35 Teen Center on Chapala Street — which opened 15 years after Folayemi started that campaign, thanks to continued lobbying by the Santa Barbara Youth Council, powered largely by young activists he had cultivated.

At First United Methodist Church on Saturday, April 14, there will be a public viewing of the body from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and a worship service from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., followed by repast in the Fellowship Hall.

Folayemi’s wife of 45 years, Akivah Northern, invited the entire community to attend any or all of these events. Another celebration, with a showing of Folayemi’s artwork from the 1960s to the present, is planned for June 10, at a time and location to be announced.


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