Celebrating Juneteenth 2021 – Get to Know the Artists, Performers, and Leaders Behind Juneteenth SB’s 2021 Events

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Juneteenth commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans in Texas were informed of their freedom on June 19th, 1865 – a full two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Black/African American communities across the country have marked Juneteenth with celebration and organizing efforts centered on supporting and uplifting Black life. 

In 2018, forward thinking community members, Simone Ruskamp, Chiany Dri, and Jordan Killebrew, brought a reiteration of Juneteenth back to Santa Barbara as several Black/African American Elders have celebrated in our region in the past.

Juneteenth SB’s annual event has grown each year, with last year’s virtual event had over 13,000 viewers and featured an array of videos of Black community members sharing their stories, showcasing their work, and their collective histories. 

For 2021, Juneteenth SB invites the community to a hybrid of in-person and online events including an open gallery & black artisan market on state street as well as virtual programming that includes performances, conversations, interviews, and more! View the full event schedule here

We’re excited to experience this weekend’s events and are thrilled to see the recognition of these individuals’ talents and contributions to our community. We’ve included some information about the artists and the founders below in hopes that you’ll be inspired to support, connect and collaborate with them well beyond June 19th. 

Meet the artists:

Mariano Silva is passionate about using art as a tool to bring people of diverse backgrounds together and build community. Since founding his first academy in 1997 Grupo De Angola Renascer, and today through the Brazilian Cultural Arts Center of Santa Barbara he founded in 2001, Mariano creates space for community members to discover themselves and support each other through cultural arts.

Mariano Silva teaches Ballroom and Brazilian dance at the University of California Santa Barbara UCSB, at the Brazilian Cultural Arts Center of Santa Barbara, as well as workshops and events throughout the world. His dance classes blend a unique combination of history, tradition and movement.

Mariano Silva is a singer, songwriter, musician, and composer. Known for his captivating stage presence, Mariano Silva travels the world as a solo artist, performer, and teacher. Mariano Silva also tours and performs locally with Banda Prakantar and Banda Alegria Geral.


Chanté [pronouns: ‘they/them’, ‘she/her’] is a non-binary, mixed race visual artist currently living in Southern California. Chanté works with many mediums such as fine art painting, tattoo, murals, illustration, animation, performance art, and installation art. They derive inspiration from the natural world, symbolism, spirituality and through exploring the many threads that connect and uplift us in both community and humanity.


Terra Cobian is a published photographer, social media management specialist, mentor, art show curator, and artist based out of Santa Barbara, California. Owning her own business for six years, she specializes in highlighting different communities through art and photography. She is so excited to use photography to show love to the Black community in SB!

Talitha Gabrielle is a singer-songwriter, musician, and mixing artist from Hampton, VA, new to Santa Barbara. Her music can be found on all platforms, including Apple Music and Spotify. She graduated from Hampton University in 2013 with a B.S. in Music, and she is currently the technical director for a high school theatre in Santa Barbara, where she teaches high school students how to build and design scenic elements, and design lighting and sound for theatre.


Stephen is an artist specializing in oil and acrylic mediums, with both paintings and prints available for purchase. He has been painting since 2016 and has amassed a large amount of work since. He was born and raised in San Bernardino, CA and currently based out of Ventura, CA.

Instagram: @stvndid

Gabrielle Felder, also known as Ifademilade Omotola Oosafunmilayo, (she/they) is the sole educator, freelance graphic designer, social media artist, and culture critic behind the platform GFx Studios (@gfx_prints on Instagram).Currently, Gabrielle is the Director of Research and Consulting at Just Communities Central Coast in Santa Barbara, CA where she educates the community on the intricacies of anti-racism in policy and practice. Gabrielle is also dedicated to decolonization and reindigenization work. She’s currently studying as an Aborisa at 256 Healing Arts, a Yoruba cultural and spiritual center based in Brooklyn where she’s training to become a priestess in the ancient tradition known as Ifá, a 10,000 year old indigenous Yoruba religion from West Africa. When she’s not working on one of her many projects, Gabrielle enjoys eating sushi with her partner, watching reality TV, and playing with her two cats and puppy.


The Rev. Dr. David N. Moore, Jr. is a pastor, human rights advocate, adjunct university professor, and writer living in Santa Barbara, CA . David is UCSB Alum and leads Santa Barbara’s New Covenant Church, and also Jesus Collective, an online community which exist a foster home as an equity by healing relationships and cultural divides, honoring the dignity of all people, and protecting the biodiversity of our planet, through actively listening, understanding, partnering, and serving. David’s Masters degree is from St. Stephen’s University in New Brunswick, Canada. He earned his doctorate in Theology at the University of South Africa. David and his wife Diane have been married for 43 years and have five adult children.

Artist Aaron Latham will have art on display at the open gallery at 833 State Street from Wednesday-Sunday 12-7pm.

Words from Aaron:

I was born to a strong woman.

This woman is a strong woman.

6 boys, one girl, and Her.


4 1/2 years ago I took a bus from Racist Virginia to California.

Homeless in Oxnard. After 8 days I was inside the Rescue mission.


2 years lata . . . .

Started painting, Jazz, Acting, ETC…

Saved my life… #blessed

Chuck was born and raised in Port Hueneme California. His mom has been an inspiration to all his life and taught him to always have the right attitude. Chuck is a poet and develops his poems out of personal life experiences, observations and accomplishments. He’s also inspired by his job coaches and is grateful for their assistance and motivation towards his art. Chuck aspires to be in a movie one day and would like to pursue singing.

Since its inception in 1984, Jah Bone has been a major force in the Santa Barbara Reggae scene. Jah Bone has been fortunate to have had a hand in the development of reggae in the region. Many local venues have recognized the draw that music commands, and that Jah Bone’s style is like no other. Jah Bone offers a strong selection of eclectic classic reggae standards, as well as original compositions delivered with strong musicianship, tight vocal harmonies, showcasing impressive lead vocals. Current Jah Bone: Luther Richmond (lead vocals and drums), Gene Forget (bass), Joe Fior (guitar and vocals), Louis in Medrano (guitar and vocals), Hashim Russell (keyboard and vocals), Matt Helman (trumpet), and Stan Middleton (trombone). Together these musicians have crystallized a rich and vibrant sound that is modern yet true to the roots of reggae.

We’re so excited to see the performances and art on display and want to thank the leaders behind Juneteenth SB for bringing these artists together to make this year’s celebration possible. Additionally, we thank them for all that they do for Santa Barbara and beyond.

Meet the Founders:


Simone Akila (she/her/her) is a Black woman who loves Black people. She is a co-founder of Juneteenth Santa Barbara as well as Healing Justice Santa Barbara. She has led numerous successful  campaigns for justice in Santa Barbara and currently is one of the driving forces behind the forming police oversight commission in Santa Barbara. 


Chiany Dri (she/her/hers) is a mixed race Black Latina, born and raised on Tongva land in Los Angeles, California. She is a mother of three, an organizer, justice worker and the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. 


Jordan Killebrew (he, him, his) is a Queer Black person with an abnormal love of community. As the Director of Communications at the Santa Barbara Foundation he and his team promote and enhance the Foundation’s identity through marketing and communications strategy, social media, publications, public relations, advertising, and events.


Siblings Leticia Forney Resch (RIGHT) & Mariah Jones (LEFT) have been working hard to provide a phenomenal series of in-person and virtual events. 

We also thank Krystle Seighart-Farmer, Maile Schoonover, and Healing Justice SB for their continuous support of Juneteenth SB and its events. 

These brief introductions merely scratch the surface of these leaders’ impressive history of work within the Santa Barbara community. To learn more about their many talents, and deep level of involvement in Juneteenth SB  and other local organizations visit: https://juneteenthsb.org/roots

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