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SANTA BARBARA, CA – Juneteenth Santa Barbara, event logistics partner Healing Justice Santa Barbara, and Platinum Community Sponsors City of Santa Barbara and US Bank (additional community sponsors listed below) welcomed over 3,000 community members in celebration at the “Nourishing the People” block party this past Sunday honoring the newest federal and 157-year-old Black/African American holiday, Juneteenth. 


The local community-centered event is in its sixth year iteration and the second year as a block party honoring the holiday in historically Black Santa Barbara (as indicated by the City of Santa Barbara’s Historic Context Statement), also known as the Funk Zone, on the 200 block of Gray Avenue in Santa Barbara. The celebration included local live performances, the Black/African American Artisan Market, kid’s activities with Princess Tiana from Princess & the Frog, and more! 

On the stage for this event were local Black talent Executive Director of the Common Tabel Foundation, Warren B Ritter III & local entertainer Vivian Storm as co-host, Talitha Gabrielle, The Knew Vibe, DJ Tempest, and Pastor David Moore, who provided libations. Local poet Sojourner Kincaid Rolle was also a part of the event, reading her children’s book, “Free At Last,” of which she signed and gave away for free. 

The event also brought back the Black Artisan Market with vendors: Martin Luther King Jr. Committee, Healing Justice Santa Barbara, Omega Real Estate & Investments, Gateway Educational Services, NAACP – Santa Barbara, LPM Brittle, To Live a Colorful Life, Studio Iman, Baby Sign Sessions, Warrior Mother Essential Oils and Blends, Uncle Roy’s Seasoning, Big Mama’s Preserve, SBCC Umoja, Golden1 Credit Union, Pacific Pride Foundation, and Riah Safari

Juneteenth SB Community Member/Attendee Quotes

“We have gathered the past 6 years with intention, and this year was no exception,” noted Juneteenth Santa Barbara and Healing Justice Santa Barbara Co-Founder Simone Ruskamp. “In the midst of Pride Month, UCSB graduation, and Father’s Day – we paused to consider what more is needed for black liberation. The intersecting events highlight what must come to pass, the protection and Care of our Black lgbtqia+ siblings, sustainable futures for our young people, and city investment in Black families. We are so grateful for the over 3000 people who joined us in celebrating Black Independence Day. Happy Juneteenth.”

“We are honored to hold space for our community in Santa Barbara and beyond and to center joy and liberation for Black communities across the central coast,” shared Chiany Dri, Juneteenth Santa Barbara Co-Founder. “The space we create as Juneteenth Santa Barbara offers a vision of our collective freedom and goes beyond our one-day celebration. We spend months planning, collaborating, and building partnerships across Santa Barbara, impacting local perspectives on the importance of the holiday and standing in solidarity with Black communities all year long.”

“My heart is still overflowing from witnessing the joy and love from our Juneteenth Block Party,” said Juneteenth Santa Barbara Co-Founder Jordan Killebrew. “We created this space with intention so we all can come together and celebrate our freedom and envision a more equitable future for generations to come.”

“Juneteenth is an example of why knowing about significant historical moments is essential,” mentioned Santa Barbara Community College Trustee Dr. Charlotte Gallup-Moore. “It is the oldest national commemoration of the ending of those enslaved in the United States. Juneteenth is also the longest-running African American holiday and another example of why we must prevent the development of racist laws that withhold information from people. We have long benefited from significant contributions by the African Diaspora population, which must be celebrated, disseminated, and protected.”

“This year’s Juneteenth Black party was a radiant celebration — Black joy shown bright even through the cloudy day,” shared Maile Diana Schoonover, Community member, and Juneteenth Volunteer. “I am immensely grateful to the organizers for curating this remarkable space that brought together so many community members — from the many Black vendors and artisans, the incredible musicians and dance performances, and tributes from community leaders. Every aspect was a testament to the deep love of Black people past, present, and future,  and the undeniable joy of being in the community.”

“Juneteenth Santa Barbara 2023 reignited the passion within all of us for better understanding, closer community ties, and a brighter hope for a future of love, justice and peace  – a ‘new legacy’ for our children and grandchildren,” noted Dianne Travis-Teague, Senior Director of Alumni Affairs at Pacifica Graduate Institute. “What I most love about Juneteenth is that we, as a people, find something to celebrate, even in the midst of trials.” 

Juneteenth American History

During Juneteenth, we continue a 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.”

Before 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 Ruskamp. “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 also acknowledges the work still needing to be done to create more equitable communities.” 

Juneteenth Santa Barbara History

Federally recognized in June of 2021, Black/African American communities across the country have marked Juneteenth with celebration and organizing efforts centered on supporting and uplifting Black life. Chiany Dri, Simone Ruskamp, and Jordan Killebrew brought a reiteration of Juneteenth (in its fifth year) 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 Juneteenth 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 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. 

In 2021 Juneteenth SB partnered with Healing Justice Santa Barbara to put on a series of events in-person and virtual events and the historic opening of MELANIN Black Artist Gallery at 833 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101.

“From a small cookout on the lower west side to an entire block party dedicated to celebration, Juneteenth in Santa Barbara has been a historic revival for Black folks and the greater community,” said Chiany Dri, Co-Founder of Juneteenth SB. “Six years ago, we never could have imagined that our intention to bring people together would become a collective vision, come to life, to celebrate freedom, community, the arts and Black joy throughout Santa Barbara. Most importantly, the evolution of Juneteenth Santa Barbara over the last five years shows us how impactful this kind of celebration is and it serves as a reminder, not just of freedom gained, but of the work we must continue to do in support of a greater vision for freedom.”

For 2022, Juneteenth Santa Barbara held the first ever “Caring for the People” Block Party, with just under 3,000 people attending and enjoying art, performances, and culture. In 2023, the second block party with a theme of “Nourishing the People” had over 3,000 community members attending to celebrate the new federal holiday. 

Thank you to our 2023 Community Partners (Sponsors)

Special thanks to the individual donors, families, artists, and so many who contributed to help make this day possible. 

Thank you to our Platinum Community Partners, the City of Santa Barbara and US Bank

Additional gratitude to our Gold Sponsors, the City of Goleta, the County of Santa Barbara, and the Santa Barbara Foundation

We also thank our Silver Community Partners, Pacifica Graduate Alumni Association, SBCC Foundation, Spark Creative Events, Endowment for Youth Community, Santa Barbara Independent, and Golden 1 Credit Union.  

Along with gratitude for the Bronze Community Partners, American Riviera Bank, The Fund for Santa Barbara, Montecito Bank & Trust, Oniracom, Ventura Rentals Party & Events, Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ), Pride & Joy Santa Barbara, and Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara

Additional thanks to our community partners,  UCSB Office of Black Student Development, Pacific Pride Foundation, Madi’s Treasure Box, Clevr Blends, AG Protection, Chaucer’s Bookstore, and La Leiff Winery


About Juneteenth Santa Barbara 

Juneteenth Santa Barbara is an annual event where community members unite to celebrate the liberation 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 and provides free food, dancing, and singing. To learn more, please go to


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