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Santa Monica to Celebrate Juneteenth with Annual Festival


Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Lookout Staff

June 5, 2024 -- Santa Monica will host the 32nd Annual Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday, June 15, with R&B, Soul and Gospel music and unique crafts and food vendors.

The theme of this year's free, family-friendly celebration -- which takes place from 3 to 7 p.m. at Virginia Avenue Park -- is Rising Above Racism: A Legacy of Empowerment & Pride.

In addition to musical performances on the Main Stage, the festival features panel discussions and spoken word artists.

This year's "stellar line up of musicians" features soul singer, Sy Smith presented in partnership with BroadStage.

Often called "the hardest working woman in underground soul," Smith "helped cultivate the nu-soul scene in (Los Angeles) more than 10 years ago," according to the singer's website.

Also performing on the Main Stage are blues artist Sonny Green, local favorite OPERATION: Butterfly, gospel group Lifeline Quartet and soloist Miss Aliya.

DJ Sucafree will provide “lively” DJ sets, KJLH’s Arron “Bobo” Arnell will emcee and Chazz Rosswill lead a pre-show participatory drumming performance, organizers said.

A cultural arts marketplace will feature more than a dozen vendors selling a wide variety of cultural arts that include jewelry, clothing, hats and books from Moondance Books.

Participants can also enjoy a children’s craft area and community resource booths.

Food will be available for purchase from Jon Que’s Smokeout barbeque, Wing Lord and the Patty Wagon food trucks, and desserts from C&L Catering.

Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas became the last to be officially notified of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Union troops informed them that on September 22, 1862 President Abraham Lincoln had signed the proclamation, which was issued on January 1, 1863.

Celebrations commemorating the date began in Texas in 1866 and involved church-centered community gatherings. The observances spread across the South, centering on food festivals in the 1920s and 1930s.

In many parts of the country it has become a celebration of Black culture.

Main Stage Line Up:

1:45 p.m. Pre-show with participatory drumming performance with Chazz Ross

2:00 p.m. Welcome by Juneteenth Founder LaVerne Ross with soloist Miss Aliya performing the Black National Anthem

2:20 p.m. Gospel performance by Lifeline Quartet

3:00 p.m. Invocation by Interfaith Council and presentation of Juneteenth Proclamation to LaVerne Ross

3:35 p.m. R&B and Soul group OPERATION: Butterfly

5:00 p.m. Local Blues artist Sonny Green

6:20 p.m. Sy Smith will perform original and classic soul, jazz, folk, and gospel music, presented in partnership with BroadStage

7:00 p.m. Closing remarks by Juneteenth Founder La Verne Ross

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