SANTA BARBARA, CA – Juneteenth Santa Barbara and Healing Justice SB, invite the community at large to a hybrid of virtual and in-person celebrations to honor Juneteenth all weekend long. To start on Friday, June 18th, we will have the United in Hope for True Black Liberation Panel discussion and a Black Student Union panel. The following day, Saturday, June 19th, from noon until 5 pm there will be a Black/African American Artisan Market and Melanin Gallery Space held at 833 State Street in downtown Santa Barbara. 

Masks and proper social distancing rules apply to all in-person events. For the virtual events, there will be a return of the family favorite Chocolate Baby Story Time, and so much more. 

During Juneteenth Celebration Weekend, we continue an Black/African American tradition of celebrating the abolishment of enslavement  with interactive art, song, food, and our vibrant Black/African American community.

We are reminded that the first Juneteenth celebration on June 19th, 1865 in Galveston, Texas marked the day Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and issued General Order Number 3 enforcing the Emancipation Proclamation:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free,” the general noted. “This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

Prior to this act Texas, along with several communities in the American South still invested in the economics of slavery. These areas that were isolated politically and geographically from much of the country, resisted emancipation and continued the practice of enslavement. 

“Although General Granger and his news of freedom were celebrated,” said Simone Ruskamp, co-founder of Healing Justice SB and Juneteenth SB. “The full text of the order made clear that progress would be slow going, as enslaved people were encouraged to stay and work for their former owners and instructed to refrain from idleness. The first Juneteenth celebrated the federal government for acknowledging Black personhood and intentionally made space for Black folks to organize and plan for the long struggle towards full citizenship. I’m passionate about seeing this tradition continued in Santa Barbara as it is also an acknowledgment of the work still needing to be doing to create more equitable communities.” 

Black/African American communities across the country have marked Juneteenth with celebration and organizing efforts centered on supporting and uplifting Black life. Forward thinking community members, Simone Ruskamp, Chiany Dri, and Jordan Killebrew, brought a reiteration of Juneteenth back to Santa Barbara as several Black/African American Elders have celebrated in our region in the past. 

In 2018, Ruskamp, Dri, and Killebrew gathered to celebrate Junteenth at El Centro on the lower westside of Santa Barbara. This first event featured home-cooked Soul Food, Black centered programming and most importantly, a safe space for the community to come together to celebrate Black culture. The following year, Juneteenth SB partnered with the Santa Barbara Public Library, where the event grew to 400 people. In 2020, due to COVID-19, the celebration was a virtual event that had over 13,000 viewers and featured an array of videos of Black community members sharing their stories, showcasing their work, and their collective histories. For 2021, we hope that community members can attend the celebration virtually or in person at 833 State St Santa Barbara, CA 93101.

“Telling the truth of our land and our stories must be upheld,” said Killebrew, co-founder of Juneteenth Santa Barbara. “Black joy and Black pain go hand in hand. It is our stories that we tell through celebrations like Juneteenth and the work of Healing Justice Santa Barbara that uplifts our Ancestors, recognizes our struggles and successes, and identifies through such pain our joy is pure and sacred. This is a gift that we share with the community at large and we ask that you protect it and support it. It takes us all to work to be liberated, free, and celebrate the progress we have made.”

This year’s event is produced in partnership with  fResch Events. Leticia Forney-Resch along with support by Mariah Jones Bisquera have worked to coordinate a special line-up in collaboration with the Juneteenth Santa Barbara team. Check out the full line-up of events at

Special thanks to the Black families and artists that made contributions to help make this day possible. Additional thanks to Healing Justice Santa Barbara, fResch Events, Mariah Jones-Bisquera, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, City of Santa Barbara, Array Creative Designs, The Arts Fund, Sure Shot Media, Sirena Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Bowl, Gateway Educational Services, Investec Management Corporation, The Marjorie Luke Theatre, Isla Vista Screen Printing, and the Santa Barbara Foundation. 

About Juneteenth Santa Barbara 

Juneteenth Santa Barbara is an annual event, where we bring community members together to celebrate the freedom of enslaved African Americans in the United States. Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas were informed of their freedom and immediately danced in the streets. Today we honor our ancestors and celebrate our freedom, showcasing Black joy and culture in Santa Barbara, California. Our community event also honors local Black artists, performers, and organizations as well as providing free food, dancing, and singing. To learn more please go to

About Healing Justice Santa Barbara 

Healing Justice Santa Barbara – Healing Justice Santa Barbara aspires to uplift all Black/African-Americans to affirm that they are deserving of safety, love, equity, respect, and joy. Simply put we do it for the love of Black people. Learn more at


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