Join Santa Monica’s Virginia Avenue Park and the Parent Connection Group to celebrate Black History Month with the fifth annual Black History Greens Festival. The event will take place on Saturday, February 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  The Festival celebrates food and culture with crafts, live music, a pop-up museum, book readings and more! This year’s festival theme is Honoring Black Royalty.

The first Greens Festival was envisioned by Janeen Jackson, then co-chair of Parent Connection Group at VAP. She and her fellow members wanted a unique way to celebrate black history through food and cultural activities. Borrowing from other Greens Cooking events, they designed an event that integrates healthy Soul Food cooking with history and cultural education. Greens recipes are contributed mostly by Pico community participants and range from Southern to African to Caribbean traditions. Festival stage performances include Isokan Dance Collective, poetry readings, and music by DJ Jihaari with a special appearance by Mayor Kevin McKeown who will present the Black History Month Proclamation to the community.

Other activities at the festival will include: 

A live cooking demonstration by Chef Dahm of Soulistic Food. Chef Dahm’s demonstration will blend flavors from African, Latin and Asian cuisines and will use ingredients from the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

As part of the Belmar History + Art project, poet and educator Natalie Patterson will read a poem created to honor the patterns of migration, displacement, and settlement that led us to this place.

As part of the Belmar History + Art project, dancer and choreographer d. Sabela grimes will lead a collective movement workshop that explores themes of migration and displacement. Participants will also be invited to perform a group dance at the grand opening celebration at the new Civic Center Multipurpose Sports Field, on the site of the former Belmar neighborhood.

A reading by renowned actor, Bary Shabaka Henley of “The Adventures of Obi and Titi” by Mr. O T Begho. A book that blends historical fact and fiction, taking its readers on an unforgettable journey across ancient Africa.

A special exhibit of famous and talented African Americans from the past to the present day.

African Royal Crown crafting workshops.

Kids self-portrait workshop.

This year’s event is presented in collaboration with the VAP, PCG, Pico Branch Library and the Santa Monica Farmers Market. If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact Virginia Avenue Park at 310-458-8688 or visit 

Submitted by Miranda Iglesias

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