Brayell and band at the 2024 Juneteenth SB Celebration | Photo: Ingrid Bostrom

The joys of Juneteenth came early to Santa Barbara on Saturday with the “Joy for the People” block party in the Funk Zone, a historically Black part of our region. While, Wednesday, June 19, is a Federal Holiday, the free event on the 100 block of Gray Avenue got the celebration started early with live performances by Black talent including emcee Vivian Storm, Talitha Blackwell, Pastor David Moore, Aria Elan, Kat Lincoln, Brayell, The AD Project, P Money Experience, and The Knew Vibe, with DJ Tempest. 

Named in honor of the late Sojourner “Joy” Kincaid Rolle, a founding elder of the Juneteenth SB organization, Juneteenth Santa Barbara (JSB) celebrates the national recognition of Black Independence Day in Santa Barbara. Now in its seventh year as a collaborative showcase of Black culture, talent, and joy in our region, JSB centers around a free community block party.

This year’s JSB event also featured the Indy Parenting kids zone with Princess Tiana from Princess & the Frog, the Santa Barbara Public Library on the Go Van, and a basketball shooting competition. Nonprofits were out in force as well, with information tables from Austin Jones Realty/Investor, Future Leaders of America, Girl Scouts of Central Coast, The Inclusion School, MLK Jr. SB, NAACP Santa Barbara, Planned Parenthood, Sansum Clinic now part of Sutter Health, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics with Voter Registration, Starfish Connection Talk O Truck, and UCSB Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Nu Nu Chapter, and Xi Kappa Omega Chapter. 

Participants at the 2024 Juneteenth SB Celebration | Photo: Ingrid Bostrom

A returning favorite, the Black Artisan Market included vendors: Baked by the Hoods, Big Mama’s Preserves, Cookie Plug, Country Gal Clothing, Dawn Carlson Designs, Dez Porter, Elf Kraft, Gypsy Moon House, Healing Justice SB, My Mother is A Superhero, Moore on Health, Riah Safari, ShevaShea, Steven Harper, To Live A Colorful Life, and Warrior Mother Essential Oils & Blends.

An estimated 4,000-5,000 people attended the Joy for the People event on Saturday, a significant increase over previous years, in part because of the Saturday celebration. According to the JSB organizers, in 2022, the theme was “Caring for The People,” and little under 3,000 people attended and in 2023, the theme was “Nourishing The People,” and more than 3,000 people attended.

This year JSB also launched the State of the Black Community Survey at the Block Party. This comprehensive survey, which will close on October 1, helps gather data about the Black community across Santa Barbara County. UCSB Center for Evaluation is facilitating the survey, with sponsorship support from the Santa Barbara Foundation and NAACP Santa Maria—Lompoc. 

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