MISSION STATEMENT:

“Promote cohesiveness and well-being in the lives of African Americans by celebrating their art, culture and history.

Engage the community at-large; Advance social justice solutions in those impacted communities”


About JUNETEENTH

The significance and celebration of Juneteenth carries a lot of weight for African Americans: celebrating our emancipation from chattel slavery, but never forgetting the nightmare of slavery; celebrating the journey of our ancestors, and our resilience as a people for what we have had to overcome as a result of the systemic legacy of slavery and in spite of the obstacles that were placed before us; celebrating our unique culture, made in America, but rich with our African heritage; celebrating the contributions we have made to the fabric of America, notwithstanding our humble beginnings, and finally a commitment to the fight for equal justice under the law for Black Americans.


No doubt the founders of the first celebrated Juneteenth in Galveston, TX echoed the desire to simply celebrate our journey, our history, and our struggle for equal justice, which continues… We do not know the names of the Galveston Juneteenth committee, but we do know that in 1865 they established a national legacy, and now a holiday, that is well established in the Black community. This event is a demonstrated example of “Belonging”- our community engaging other communities to celebrate the Black experience…

As for documented history of the BERKELEY JUNETEENTH FESTIVAL, RD Bonds, the founder, invited others to establish a non-profit and begin the organization’s history of celebrating Juneteenth in Berkeley. In 1986, chicken dinners were sold, and an awesome party was held at Nick’s Lounge to fund the first celebrated street festival in 1987. James Sweeney obtained the California 501© (3) under the name Berkeley Juneteenth Association, Inc., and the newly appointed board members were RD Bonds -President, Dorothy Wiggins, Evelyn Cockrell, Abiayed Shabazz, Sam Dyke, Rhonda Watts-James, James Sweeney, Delores Cooper (Secretary), and Bradley Walters. Source: Bylaws signed by the non-profit’s board of directors on March 9, 198.

By the time the federal non-profit was established in 1992, the event had been celebrated under the direction of RD for five years and he hired his friends, the sister and brother team of Paul Smith and Barbara Taylor to obtain entertainment acts for the festival. Their relationship with Berkeley Juneteenth continued after RD’s death in 1995 and up until 2006. For almost 25 years, they worked under the direction of Sam Dyke who provided them with the funds through the City of Berkeley to pay for festival entertainment. Their domain was entertainment, and they did an awesome job of using their premiere connections. But entertainment is only one aspect of a festival. Vendors, equipment, fundraising, etc., was solely managed by Dyke, and the non-profit’s often-transient Board of Directors. In 2007 a new Board breathed new life into the organization. Hours of planning by a tight knit group of individuals built the foundation for today’s Berkeley Juneteenth Cultural Celebrations.

There are many individuals who have had a hand in making the Berkeley Juneteenth Festival the success that it has been for over 35 years. Carla Oden, a local artist designed posters in the 1990s and early 2000s and designed the first Juneteenth banner. Oden also introduced the idea of consistent graphics branding. Reggie Greene created a blueprint for future fundraising, researching the history of Juneteenth and then documenting it. Portions of his research is still being used today. Local Artist, Mildred Howard contributed her design talents to ensure that the tradition of Juneteenth continues in the neighborhood she grew up in. For 23 years, Lothario Lotho served as the festival’s master of ceremony until his death in 2011. Giselle and Lucky Thomas made volunteering on event day a family affair. Vendors, like Vicki L. Ward and CJs BBQ have participated almost since Berkeley Juneteenth’s inception. We are grateful for the named and unnamed participants! The tradition of Juneteenth in Berkeley will continue as long as the community steps forth to make it happen…


The two Sankofa symbols are a stylized heart, representing the idea of going around, but ending up at the original source. The Sankofa heart Is a common design on gates in Ghana and In the US, particularly New York City. The Sankofa heart Is commonly upside down on gates. The second symbol Is of a bird with feet firmly facing forward while looking back supporting the Idea of Incorporating aspects of the past Into the future. The egg represents the “gems’ or knowledge of the past The Sankofa bird appears frequently in traditional Akan art from Ghana and Is an Important symbol In an African Diaspora context.


SANKOFA is an act of remembering and recognizing the truth- that it is impossible to be disconnected from the source of our being. Sankofa looks to the past knowing that both the good and the bad has has help to shape who we are today. It encourages us to embrace our journey and the journey of our ancestors.’Whatever was lost, forgotten, left behind, foregone, or been stripped of, can be reclaimed, revived, preserved, and perpetuated.”

Harriett Tubman lived In Sankofa.The way to freedom came to her through her dreams and blackouts; She was committed…I would’ve freed more If only they knew they were slaves”. She was aware everyone was not ready, but she still believed everyone was worthy of freedom.


For those of us who were lost

For those of us who were stolen

For those of us who were left behind

For those of us who are not forgotten

AGRICAN BUM GROUNDS MOM MENTW MC

PHOTOS BY MALAIKA KABON

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