The City of Santa Monica will host the 30th Annual Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday, June 18, from 1 to 7 p.m. at Virginia Avenue Park. Known as America’s 2nd Independence Day, Juneteenth has been celebrated in Santa Monica since 1992 thanks to LaVerne Ross when she approached the City to commemorate the holiday that her family celebrated in Texas.
Over the years, thanks to LaVerne’s dedication and leadership, the event has grown into an important annual tribute that brings together Santa Monica’s Black community. In March 2022, Santa Monica City Council designated Juneteenth as an official City holiday. In observance of the holiday, City facilities will be closed, and City programs will be canceled on Monday, June 20.
To mark the event’s third decade, the main stage will feature musicians including jazz great Dee Dee Bridgewater, saxophonist Mike Phillips, all-female R&B band KLYMAXX, local favorite Block Party Band, and lively DJ sets by DJ Shell. KJLH’s “Bobo” Arnell will emcee and Chazz Ross will open the celebration with a traditional drum call.
Main Stage Line Up:
1 p.m. Traditional drum call with Chazz Ross
1:30 p.m. Local favorite Block Party Band
2:30 p.m. Invocation by Interfaith Council
2:45 p.m. Three-time Grammy award winner jazz singer-songwriter Dee Dee Bridgewater, sponsored in part by The Broad Stage
3:45 p.m. Presentations, Juneteenth Founder, LaVerne Ross
4:15 p.m. Contemporary jazz saxophonist Mike Phillips – smooth, romantic riffs with a funky, hip-hop-influenced sound
5:45 p.m. American all-female pop/R&B band KLYMAXX with founder Bernadette Cooper and members Lorena Porter Shelby, Cheryl Cooley, Robbin Grider, Lynn Malsby, and Joyce “Fenderella” Irby
6:40 p.m. Closing remarks, Juneteenth Founder, La Verne Ross
6:45 p.m. Theresa Smith, closing dance performance
In addition to the Main Stage musical performances, the festival will also include a Community Stage with presentations by Committee for Racial Justice, Santa Monica Repertory Theater, and Nubia Poetica’s spoken word artists as well as a children’s craft area, cultural arts Marketplace, community resource booths, and food available for sale from BizzyB Cafe barbeque, B&R Burgers food truck, and Juice It Up.
Community Stage Line Up:
Master of Ceremonies: Sean Hill
1:15 p.m. Divine Variations Impact Team writers sharing original texts written for Juneteenth
2:15 p.m. Divine Variations Impact Team writers sharing original texts written for Juneteenth
2:30 p.m. Committee for Racial Justice educational panel discussions – A Resilient People
3:30 p.m. Committee for Racial Justice educational panel discussions – Empowering Children to Be Resilient
5 p.m. Santa Monica Repertory Theater series of original works and stories by members
Over a dozen vendors will be selling a wide variety of cultural arts, jewelry, clothing, and more. Vendors include Nitz by Natz, Wanawake Wanawake Hats, YM Jewels, African Carvings, SD Fashions, A Makers Magic, Sagedbeading, and more.
Juneteenth is produced in partnership with the Juneteenth Celebration Committee, Inc. The event is made possible by generous contributions from The Broad Stage, Activision/Blizzard, and Frontier Communications. For complete event details, visit santamonica.gov/places/parks/virginia-avenue-park.
Submitted by Tati Simonian