Celebrating Black History Month 2023

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In celebration of the historical achievements of Black/African Americans, organizations in Santa Barbara are continuing the tradition of coming together to provide events for Black History Month (BHM) this February.

We’re taking the opportunity to spotlight some of the organizations behind this year’s BHM events which serve to uplift the joy, accomplishments, challenges, and successes of local Black/African-American individuals.

Santa Barbara County Community organizations providing events include Coffee with a Black Guy, Endowment for Youth Community, Gateway Educational Services, Healing Justice Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Black Culture House, Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, Santa Barbara County Black Student Unions, UCSB Arts & Lectures, UCSB Multicultural Center (MCC), NAACP Santa Barbara, and NAACP Santa Maria – Lompoc, and Juneteenth Santa Barbara – which coordinates with all organizations. Events in 2023 will be in person and virtual (online).

Read on to get to know the organizations, and find a preview of this month’s events.

1. Coffee with a Black Guy

Coffee with a Black Guy (CWABG) is an innovative social impact movement launched in July 2016 by Santa Barbara resident James Joyce III. In these community conversations, Joyce facilitates candid cross-cultural dialogue to help counteract racial tumult. The sessions are a time to share stories, have conversations, impart perspective or just listen and learn from fellow citizens of the world. Simply put, Coffee. Connection. Conversations. Learn more at cwabg.com.

2. Endowment for Youth Community

Since its start in 1986, formerly Endowment for Youth Committee, EYC has been one of the largest organizations on the California Central Coast that remains dedicated to the educational success and advancement of Black/African American youth. Co-founded by Melvin Richey and Cliff Lambert, the organization provides educational, cultural, social, and recreational programs for young African-American men and all other segments of our youth. More than thirty years later, EYC is adapting to the dynamic youth of today to more accurately address their needs and concerns. EYC is committed to our youth, to their success, and to putting forth all our resources to help them thrive. Learn more at endowmentforyouth.org.

3. Gateway Educational Services

Serving students since 2009 Gateway Educational Services is Santa Barbara County’s only nonprofit learning center. This year Gateway expanded its services to provide 40 Black/African American students needing support in Santa and Lompoc. Gateway was founded by Connie Alexander and Audrey Gamble African American educators and leaders. Learn more at gatewayeducationalservices.org

4. Healing Justice Santa Barbara

Healing Justice Santa Barbara aspires to uplift all Black/African-Americans to affirm that they are deserving of safety, love, equity, respect, and joy. Simply put we do it for the love of Black people. Learn more at HJSB.org.

5. Juneteenth Santa Barbara

Juneteenth Santa Barbara organizes our local celebration of Juneteenth, an annual event that brings community members together to celebrate the freedom of slaves in the United States. It’s a time to honor ancestors and celebrate freedom, showcasing black joy and culture in Santa Barbara, California. The community event also honors local black artists, performers, and organizations as well as provides free food, dancing, and singing. Learn more at juneteenthsb.com.

6. Santa Barbara Black Culture House

In February 2020, Darrell McNeill and Sally Foxen-McNeill created the Black History Month Culture House as a pop-up cultural event space in downtown Santa Barbara. Live music performances, film/documentary/concert video screenings, live discussions, and more all centered around the richness of Black culture, were featured every weekend in February. Find out more about this year’s virtual programming at BHMCultureHouse@gmail.com.

7. Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

In honor of Black History Month, the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (SBMM) will present two showings of “Keeping the Light: The Story of the Bravery, Heroism and Courage of African American Lighthouse Keepers and Lifesaving Service” as told by Harriet Tubman, portrayed by actor, director, and producer Christine Dixon, on Wednesday, February 1, 2023. Get tickets at sbmm.org.

8. UCSB Arts & Lectures

Founded in 1959, UCSB Arts & Lectures is the largest and most influential arts and lectures organization between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Arts & Lectures annually presents more than a hundred public events, from critically acclaimed concerts and dance performances by world-renowned artists to talks by groundbreaking authors and film series at UCSB and Santa Barbara-area venues. With a mission to “educate, entertain and inspire,” A&L also oversees an outreach program that brings visiting artists and speakers into local classrooms and other venues for master classes, open rehearsals, discussions and more, serving K-12 students, college students and the general public. Learn more at artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.

9. UCSB MultiCultural Center (MCC)

In 1987, the MCC was created out of demand for a safer and more inclusive community space for students of color at UCSB. Since then, the center has grown, both in its mission and physical footprint, to address myriad social justice issues and take action in pursuit of a more just society. Learn more at mcc.sa.ucsb.edu.

10. National Association For the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Santa Barbara

NAACP, Santa Barbara ensures that Black lives are a priority in all spaces. From police brutality to COVID-19 to voter suppression, Black communities are under attack. We work to disrupt inequality, dismantle racism, and accelerate change in key areas, including criminal justice, health care, education, climate, and the economy. When it comes to civil rights and social justice, we have the unique ability to secure more wins than anyone else. Help make racial equity a reality. Learn more at naacpsantabarbara.org

11. The National Association For the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Santa Maria-Lompoc

The National Association For the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Santa Maria-Lompoc, was founded in 1909 to address existing racial and ethnic disparities and is the largest and oldest civil rights organization in the nation.  Its mission is to secure the social, political, educational, and economic equality of rights of all people by removing barriers such as race-based discrimination and to ensure the health and well-being of all persons. Learn more at santamarialompocnaacp.org

Below is a list of Community Events as of Feburary 1, 2023. Please visit Juneteenth’s 2023 Black History Month Page for the most up-to-date information as the event calendar may be edited throughout the month. 

  • Wednesday, February 1
  • Thursday, February 2
    • Evening on Literacy with Maya Payne Smart (Gateway Education Services) | FREE — Register for the Event!
    • 6:30PM–8PM | La Cumbre Jr. High
  • Friday, February 3
    • We are Here, The Fabric of Black Excellence | Black Community Gathering (NAACP Santa Maria-Lompoc)
    • 5:30PM–8:30PM | Soul Bites, 423 State St. Santa Barbara, CA
  • Saturday, February 4
    • Documentary Screening of “Maynard” with Q&A of Directors (Santa Barbara Black Culture House) | FREE
    • Screening starts at 1PM | Soul Bites, 423 State St. Santa Barbara, CA
  • Sunday, February 5
    • Coffee with a Black Guy: Frank Talk on Race, with James Joyce (Santa Barbara Black Culture House) |
    • Discussion starts at 1PM | Soul Bites, 423 State St. Santa Barbara, CA
  • Thursday, February 9
    • Coffee with a Black Guy: Combatting Institutional Anti-Blackness, with James Joyce (UCSB MCC) | FREE
    • 5PM–7PM | UCSB MCC Theater
  • Saturday, February 11
    • “Choice of Colors” Panel on Intersectionalities with Race (Santa Barbara Black Culture House) | FREE
    • Discussion starts at 1PM | Soul Bites, 423 State St. Santa Barbara, CA
  • Saturday, February 18
    • Panel discussion: “Black Women Rock” (Santa Barbara Black Culture House) | FREE
    • Discussion starts at 1PM | Soul Bites, 423 State St. Santa Barbara, CA
      • About Pre-taped video conference of five dynamic Black women who’ve carved out careers in the rock music genre, featuring Maureen Mahon (Author/Professor at NYU) & Artists Sophia Ramos, Shelley Nicole, Leah King, and LaFrae Sci
  • Saturday, February 18
    • Black History Month Celebration (NAACP Santa Maria/Lompoc) | FREE
    • 11AM–5PM | Santa Maria Public Library
  • Saturday, February 18
    • Black Community Event for Black Organization & Partners (Endowment for Youth Community)
    • Time TBD | Wine Collective in Santa Barbara
  • Sunday, February 19
    • Live Blues/Rock with Jellyroll (Santa Barbara Black Culture House) | FREE
    • Performance starts at 1PM | Soul Bites, 423 State St. Santa Barbara, CA
      • About Popular Santa Barbara blues rock band led by vocalist/harpist Morganfield Burnett
  • Wednesday, February 22
    • Voice of Liberation Show (Healing Justice Santa Barbara) | FREE — Youtube
      • Airing in the evening
  • Thursday, February 23
  • Saturday, February 25
    • Chocolate Baby Storytime (Healing Justice Santa Barbara) | FREE — Youtube
      • Airing in the morning
  • Saturday, February 25 (Online)
    • 2nd Annual HBCU Virtual Fair (Gateway Education Sevices) | FREERegister for the Event!
    • 10AM–12PM | Virtual
  • Saturday, February 25
    • Live Music with the “Funky Neighbors” (Santa Barbara Black Culture House) | FREE
    • Performance starts at 1PM | Soul Bites, 423 State St. Santa Barbara, CA
  • Saturday, February 25
    • Black History Month Celebration (NAACP Santa Maria/Lompoc) | FREE
    • 11AM–5PM | Pioneer Park in Lompoc
  • Saturday, February 25
    • Mural Unveiling and Community Celebration (Endowment for Youth Community & North County Black Student Unions)
    • Time TBD | Lompoc Theatre
      • About In partnership with EYC, the high school BSU’s in North County came up with a vision and a theme for a mural piece: “Embrace Love – Refuse Hate.”  We have Manuel Unzueta and David Duerson as artists on the initial layout. The mural will be installed on the side of the Lompoc Theatre, and we will host a large community celebration for the reveal during Black History Month. Historical figures include MLK, Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, Nelson Mandela, and a few other local figures such as Napoleon Kaufmann, Dorothy Jackson, and Jonathan Majors. 
  • Sunday, February 26
    • Live Music with the “Cookies” (Santa Barbara Black Culture House) | FREE
    • Performance starts at 1PM | Soul Bites, 423 State St. Santa Barbara, CA
  • Friday, March 3

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