Category Archives: Benicia Black Lives Matter

URGENT – Benicia Black Lives Matter on City Council meetings this week!

[The following message was received from Benicia Black Lives Matter by email today. – BenIndy contributor Roger Straw]

Important Upcoming City Council Meetings-Supporters Needed!

There are two important City Council meetings coming up, tomorrow (12/18/23 at 9AM) and Tuesday (12/19/23 at 6PM). Despite the late notice, if anyone is able to call in, write in, or attend to give public comment, this would be a great time to participate.

We need to fight to keep the CURE Commission, the DEI Manager, and our membership in GARE (Government Alliance on Race & Equity.) Even a brief comment of a sentence or two to express support for these items will be helpful.

Below you can find meeting agendas, Staff reports, and details on how to submit comment:

Save DEI in Benicia: Agenda Item #20.A

The UPCOMING City Council meetings are:
MONDAY, December 18th at 9:00AM
TUESDAY, December 19th at 6:00PM

12/18/23: Item 11.A – RESILIENCY PLAN WORKSHOP – FINANCIAL SCENARIO REVIEW (Deputy City Manager) As part of the path forward for addressing the City’s structural deficit, the City is updating its Strategic Plan and developing a Resiliency Plan. Recommendation: Provide feedback and direction on the draft elements of the Resiliency Plan.


  • PUBLIC COMMENTS FOR AGENDA ITEMS WILL START AFTER THE ITEM IS INTRODUCED. Detailed information about how to submit comments via phone call or Zoom is below. While emails/letters submitted to City Council after the deadline of last week members may be read, they will not be entered into the public record nor will they appear in the agenda packets.
    Members of the public may provide public comments to the City Clerk by email at but the window of time to have those comments entered into the public record and added to the City Council agenda packet has closed. Any emails sent may or may not be read by City Council and Staff. Make your choices accordingly.

1) Attend in person at Council Chambers
2) Cable T.V. Broadcast – Check with your cable provider for your local government broadcast channel.
3) Livestream online at
4) Zoom Meeting (link below)


The public may view and provide public comment via Zoom (via computer or phone) link:

If prompted for a password, enter 449303.

    • Use participant option to “raise hand” during the public comment period for the item you wish to speak on. Please note, your electronic device must have microphone capability. Once unmuted, you will have up to 5 minutes to speak.

Dial in with phone:
Before the start of the item you wish to comment on, call any of the numbers below. If one is busy, try the next one.

    • 1 669 900 9128 
    • 1 346 248 7799 
    • 1 253 215 8782 
    • 1 646 558 8656 
    • 1 301 715 8592 
    • 1 312 626 6799
  • Enter the meeting ID number: 885 0804 7557 *please note this is an updated ID number*. Once unmuted, you will have up to 5 minutes to speak.

Any member of the public who needs accommodations should email City Clerk Lisa Wolfe at, who will use her best efforts to provide as much accessibility as possible while also maintaining public safety.


*YOUR OWN WORDS WILL BE THE MOST IMPACTFUL, BUT THESE ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF WHAT YOU CAN SAY. Adjust the language to suit your voice as these were all mostly written by the same person and really sound like it. 

*The basic idea is to express support for continuing the DEI work the city has undertaken, by continuing the CURE Commission, the DEI Manager position, and membership in GARE (Government Alliance on Race & Equity). Even a one or two sentence comment expressing your support for these items is useful and crucial. 

Equity issues continue in all areas including government, education, business culture, housing, and continued work is essential. 

Importance of continuing the work that has been started, for the importance of the work, but also not to waste the investment that has already been made.

City Council—all white, all but one white men

What CURE has actually accomplished (see report)

What CURE was intended to be and how it was sabotaged

Value of being model city

More than lip service DEI considerations attracts and retains talent, young people

Ideas to get started

Benicia marches for Ruby Bridges

Students from Robert Semple Elementary School walk from Francesca Terrace Park in support of Ruby Bridges during Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day in California on Tuesday in Benicia. | Chris Riley / Times-Herald.

School system honors Ruby Bridges, the first African American child to attend whites-only school in 1960

Vallejo Times-Herald, by Thomas Gase, November 14, 2023

In 1960 Ruby Bridges became the first African-American child to attend formerly Whites-only William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis. Today — 63 years later — students in Benicia are making sure nobody forgets.

Students in the Benicia High School Unified School District took part in a day to raise awareness for Bridges after learning about the civil rights activist in school during this year. For students at Robert Semple Elementary School, that meant walking from Francesca Park to the school while carrying signs and wearing T-shirts supporting Bridges.

The third annual event has grown in size every year, thanks to organizers like Kashanna Harmon-Lee, Laura Cohen, Krista Heredia and Rozalind Sinnamon.

“This is something good for Benicia and I’m really proud of the support of what everyone shown,” Harmon-Lee said. “The kids learn about Bridges’ life and these are kids that maybe didn’t know anything about Bridges previously. Each year the parents become more involved. So I’m very proud and very humble about the community effort.”

In early 1960, Bridges was one of six Black children in New Orleans to pass the test that determined whether they could go to the all-White William Frantz Elementary School. While two of the six decided to stay at their old school, Bridges went to Frantz by herself, and three other children (Gail Etienne, Leona Tate and Tessie Prevost) were transferred to the all-White McDonogh No. 19 Elementary School.

U.S. Marshals escorted Bridges to and from school. As soon as Bridges entered the school, White parents pulled their own children out, and most teachers refused to teach while a Black child was enrolled. Only one person agreed to teach Bridges — Barbara Henry, from Boston.

For over a year Henry taught her alone, “as if she were teaching a whole class.”

Students walking on Tuesday morning — along with teachers and family members — wore swag and T-shirts provided by UA Local 342. In total there were approximately 450 purple T-shirts made showing support for Bridges.

“Rich (Patten) reached out to the school and it’s been honor and privilege funding this effort,” UA Local 342 business agent Dave Herwat said. “It’s amazing to be more than just a labor union in this cause and to be an actual prescience in the community. If there is an opportunity to spread the wealth, then this is certainly the way to do it.”

Student supervision aid, Chelsea Bearce, walks with students during Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day in California on Tuesday in Benicia. | Chris Riley / Times-Herald.

One of the students wearing the swag was fourth-grader Gianna Patten, who also made a sign showing support for Bridges.

“I knew about her before this event but I like her (Bridges) because she never gave up,” Gianna said. “Even when people were yelling at her she never gave up.”

Sinnamon was also thrilled to be part of the third annual event.

“This is something I got behind three years ago and it’s grown a lot ever since,” Sinnamon said. “It celebrates diversity, it a teaching lesson to kids and adults and there is just so much forgotten and overlooked in history that we have to remember. We have to remember that it’s, ‘we the people and we still have power.’”

Benicia City Councilmember Kari Birdseye was happy to be involved with the event.

“I’m so proud of the parents that have been involved and this all started on the shoulders of a few people and it has evolved into something much bigger,” Birdseye said. “This is not just a walk. There is so much education around this. It promotes freedom, love and it is a great thing for the country and community.”

Robert Semple Principal Christina Moore said she let her teachers decide the role of how Bridges would be educated in classrooms.

“The pride I have is unmeasurable. I cannot express the gratitude and honor for being apart of something so meaningful in our community that was brought along by our parent group,” Moore said. “I love the beautiful posters, the writings about Ruby Bridges, the solidarity with all of us wearing all the shirts together. It’s all beautiful.”

TODAY 2-5 pm – Learn about Ruby Bridges at Benicia Public Library’s free, family-friendly event

Get ready for Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day with Benicia Public Library and BBLM

From Benicia Public Library:

Who is Ruby Bridges? And why are we walking to school for her? Come find out! The Library invites children, families, teens, and adults of all ages to the launch of a new program series: “We Are All Related”.

The inaugural “We Are All Related” event will celebrate Ruby Bridges and help children get ready for the annual Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day. Six-year-old Ruby Bridges stepped into the history books November 14, 1960, when she became one of the first students to integrate William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana. Since 2018, students have celebrated Ruby’s courage by walking to school making Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day the perfect opportunity to teach children about the civil rights movement and make connections to our ongoing, collective efforts to end racism.

2:00 pm: Stories about and related to Ruby Bridges

3:00 pm: Messages from Benicia Mayor Steve Young and BUSD Superintendent Damon Wright

3:15 pm: A screening of the movie about Ruby Bridges

PLUS, snacks, crafts, and community conversation.

Disclaimers: Benicia Public Library does not support or oppose any political party or candidate.  This is not a program of the Benicia Unified School District (BUSD); BUSD accepts no liability or responsibility for this program, nor does it support or oppose any political party or candidate.  Benicia Independent is not affiliated with either Benicia Public Library or BUSD.  

A Quick Guide to Celebrating Juneteenth in Solano County

Juneteenth takes off in Solano County with more events than ever before

By Nathalie Christian, June 16, 2023

It’s time to celebrate Juneteenth, and what better way than with this list of events taking place in Solano County. We are tremendously fortunate to bear witness to a long-overdue rise of awareness of and popularity for this once lesser-known, often mischaracterized holiday, which embraces the resilience, vibrancy, joy, artistry, and innovation of African and Black Americans in both our shared and unique histories and cultures.

Attending a local Juneteenth event is your opportunity to engage with true American history – both its traumas and triumphs – through live performances, educational exhibits, kids activities, and more. It’s also an opportunity to learn more about and support local Black-owned businesses as well as artists, poets, historians, performers, educators, nonprofits, faith-based organizations – wait, wait.

Y’know, the list of reasons to attend is too long to get into here, so let’s skip on ahead to the list. We are ridiculously lucky to have so events many to choose from, so get to choosing! And if you can attend more than one event, even better.

(Note: This list is mostly presented by date, then alphabetically by city, so no one can accuse me of favoritism.)

Saturday, June 17

The Solano County Black Chamber of Commerce presents the 2nd Annual Fairfield Juneteenth Celebration, a free event at Solano Annex (601 Texas Street, Fairfield, next to the old courthouse) from 11 am to 7 pm. It looks like the organizers waived the usual vendor fees so 100 vendors could be on hand to sell locally produced artisanal crafts, cosmetics, art, and more — and they ran out of room! So you can expect a lot of great opportunities to check out Black-owned businesses in Solano as well as live music, speakers, kids activities, and dancing. For more information, check out

The African American Family Reunion Committee presents the 33rd Annual Vallejo Juneteenth Festival and Parade. The parade will start at 9 am on Broadway & Tennessee Street in Vallejo and last until 10:30 am, then you can head over to the festival at Barbara Kondylis Waterfront Green (301 Mare Island Way, Vallejo) from 11 am to 5 pm. This event attracts more than 75 to 100 vendors and exhibitors selling merchandise and food as well as live music to serve about 2,000 visitors. This is the longest-running Juneteenth celebrations in Solano County, and it benefits health care organizations that provide free services. For more information, check out

Suisun City
The Suisun City Family Block Party will host “Honoring the Past, Celebrating the Future: Juneteenth, The Pursuit of the American Dream,” and I’m putting it last in this list despite a promise of alphabetical order because the event is weekend long, happening on both Saturday, June 17 AND Sunday, June 19! Taking place from 10 am to 6 pm right on the Suisun Waterfront (520 Solano Street, Suisun City), the celebration includes live music performances, food and drinks, local artisans and vendors, as well as family-friendly activities. This event supports key initiatives in Suisun City including the Suisun City Youth Commission’s Youth Projects, Economic Development Events (through R.E.A.L. Fairfield) and NAACP Youth Scholarships. Check out for more information.

Sunday, June 18

Benicia Black Lives Matter presents the 3rd Annual Juneteenth Festival in Benicia, taking place from 12 to 5 pm at Benicia’s Veterans Hall (1150 First Street, Benicia).  It looks like there will be live music, food and drinks, kids activities, and vendors on hand to help Benicia celebrate. BBLM has always managed to strike the right balance of age-appropriate education and truth-telling with fun and activities, so this event would be a wonderful way to spend your Father’s Day and support BBLM’s community outreach and support efforts, which include backpack, food, and clothing giveaways. Check out or their Facebook page for more information.

Monday, June 19

Benicia (again)
This one is a shout-out to my buddies in Benicia who may be able to join Benicia City Council Members, City staff, and community members in a flag-raising ceremony scheduled for 9:30 am on Monday and taking place in front of Benicia City Hall (250 East L Street, Benicia). It’s a short ceremony, and probably one of many flag-raising ceremonies scheduled around the county, but it’s really nice seeing that flag fly over the city I call home.

Note: This list was compiled using Google searches and a heavy lean on the grapevine. If I missed your event, please let me know ASAP and I will update this list to help promote it. I apologize in advance if I missed you and hope to include you as soon as you send me your information.