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Santa Monica Celebrates Black History Month with Greens Festival Saturday


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By Lookout Staff

February 20, 2024 -- Santa Monica continues its month-long celebration of Back history with a free community festival at Virginia Avenue Park on Saturday.

The 9th annual Black History Greens Festival -- hosted by the City and the Black Santa Monica Community Group -- takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the park at 2200 Virginia Avenue.

This year's theme is “Acknowledging the Past, Living in the Present, Building for the Future,” as the festival pays tribute to Lloyd Allen, a leading local entrepreneur and civil rights leader.

Allen, who recently turned 103, was the first Black member of the Recreation and Parks Commission, where he served in the 1960s and early 1970s and played a pivotal role in the creation of the 9.5-acre park that opened in 1975.

Allen became Santa Monica's first black millionaire with the janitorial supply store he owned for more than 50 years and pushed -- and picketed -- for businesses to hire more Black employees.

Allen also arranged for Dr. Martin Luther King to speak at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

Saturday's festival features greens cooking demos with local chefs and a wide array of activities that include book readings and giveaways, dance performances, vendors and wellness information.

Special guest KJLH radio’s Arron “BOBO” Arnell will serve as the master of ceremonies.

The day’s festivities kick off with a drumming and dance performance by Olokun Cultural Group and a blessing by Shekinah "Paradise" Shakur.

There will be DJ music mixing by Mark Birotte and a book reading of “Flowing through the Elements” by Santa Monica author Darin Glenn.

The Pico Branch Library hosts book giveaways and coloring activities and a farmer’s market features Master Gardeners giving out seedlings.

There will also be a wide variety of resource booths and vendors,, event organizers said.

Guests are encouraged to bring picnic blanket and/or lawn chairs. Walking and biking are encouraged.

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