Category Archives: Juneteenth

Save Saturday, June 15 for a Juneteenth Celebration in Benicia!

Benicia Black Lives Matter to host fourth annual Juneteenth celebration at Benicia Veteran’s Hall

Clicking this image will redirect you to the BBLM website.

Benicia Black Lives Matter is hosting a Juneteenth Celebration at the Benicia Veterans Memorial Hall on Saturday, June 15th, from 12 to 5 pm. There will be live music, food & drinks, vendors and activities for kids.

Juneteenth – which falls on June 19 but will be celebrated on the 15th here in Benicia – was finally recognized as a national holiday in 2021.

More information will be posted here when it’s available.

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

Fairfield
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 solanoblackchamber.com/event/2023-fairfield-juneteenth-celebration.

Vallejo
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 vallejojuneteenth.com.

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 juneteenth-suisun.com for more information.

Sunday, June 18

Benicia
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 beniciablacklivesmatter.com 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.

Save Sunday, June 18 for a Juneteenth Celebration in Benicia!

Benicia Black Lives Matter to host third annual Juneteenth celebration at Benicia Veteran’s Hall, Sunday, June 18

Benicia Black Lives Matter is hosting a Juneteenth Celebration at the Benicia Veteran’s Memorial Hall on Sunday, June 18, from 12 to 5 pm. There will be live music, food & drinks, vendors and activities for kids.

Juneteenth – which falls on June 19 but will be celebrated on the 18th here in Benicia – was finally recognized as a national holiday only very recently.

BenIndy Contributor Sheri Leigh has authored a wonderful piece on Juneteenth, which you can read below to learn more.

[Quick note from Nathalie: The QR code in that flier seems to have been deactivated, so I will look into the issue and update this post to reflect changes if I am able to do so.]

Juneteenth – Our Second Independence Day

By Sheri Leigh

As our calendar works its way towards mid-June, we are looking forward to observing the new National Holiday of Juneteenth to honor those who were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation and Constitutional Amendment of 1863.

Although Juneteenth is known as the “Second Independence Day,” it’s really the “First Independence Day” for many. The freedom some gained when England released its hold on the Americas when we won the Revolutionary War in 1783 did not affect a great and important part of our population. In fact, the term “freedom” at that time only applied to those empowered by the color of their skin, their gender, and the coins in their pocket. The practice of slavery— impacting the Africans brought to and sold in the United States, the subjugated Native Americans, and, to a lesser extent, those indentured—continued to experience immense growth over the next century.

Continue reading Save Sunday, June 18 for a Juneteenth Celebration in Benicia!

2nd Annual Juneteenth Celebration hosted by Benicia Black Lives Matter

There was much to be celebrated this past Sunday, June 19, 2022.

Benicia Juneteenth 2022 – Ariel Marin Music

By Amira Barger, June 23, 2022

Thanks to community volunteers and the events team of Benicia Black Lives Matter (BBLM), the second annual Juneteenth Celebration brought us together as we collectively reflected on and commemorated a historic day. This event was made possible by community, for community.

From its origins in 1865, Juneteenth has presented a paradox – much like our little City by the Bay, Benicia – marking a legacy of systemic racism and inequity yet simultaneously representing hope and opportunity to see and do things differently. In this way, Juneteenth is not just a remembrance of the past, but a call to action for us, today and tomorrow. Each community member who showed up – on Father’s Day no less—joined in an act of solidarity with and for Benicia’s Black community.

Benicia Juneteenth 2022 – Solano County Supervisor Monica Brown with BBLM’s Amira Barger and Kashanna Harmon-Lee

Nearly one hundred Benicians gathered to commemorate Freedom Day and the end of enslavement in the United States. While the downtown Veteran’s Hall was filled with visible smiles, colorful artwork and other media, live music, and the smell of delectable foods, the stage was shared amongst a handful of stunning singers, speakers, poets, artists and activists who together reminded us that the fight for equity and freedom is far from over and won.

Benicia Juneteenth 2022 – around 100 in attendance

The event also welcomed a cohort of Black-owned businesses who showed up and showed out with their products and services on display. From soaps, to comics, to massage therapy, to jewelry – we had it all. We were joined by: Rest and Relax Massage and Bodywork LLC; Crumbbum Comics; Kelene Naturals, Wisdom Natural Soaps; Ethnic Notions Fine Art Gallery & Multicultural Bookstore, Soulful Seeds.

We were also joined by other community groups dedicated to the cause: Food is Free SolanoProgressive Democrats of Benicia; Omega Gents Youth Mentoring Program; and the ACLU – Solano County Chapter.

And our bellies and hearts were filled by Chef “D” by the Bay and Noonie’s Place, while our ears were serenaded by Ariel Marin Music, DJ Irrataetion and KajLoud.

There is still much more work to be done in our little City by the Bay. BBLM encourages each resident of Benicia to continue your journey of learning and working to celebrate Black culture, Black people, Black history and Black life. Some actionable steps you can take today are noted here and can be found on our website and social pages:

Be sure to attend this event each year and, most importantly, spend your money with our vendors that joined us – most of them Black-owned and -operated. Links are included in this article where vendors have been mentioned and shared on our social media pages.

To close this recounting, we urge you to center this passage from BBLM’s first-ever essay contest winner, Sydney Allen, who offered these apt words to our community:

“I will leave you with this quote from the Black-trans activist Marsha P. Johnson, who said, ‘History isn’t something you look back at and say it was inevitable. It happens because people make decisions that are sometimes very impulsive…’ If we do not stop to consider the outcome for all of those with whom we are making decisions for, then we continue to perpetuate a vicious cycle of racism and bigotry. But if we are able to authentically bring diversity, inclusivity, and unity to our nation’s government, then we are one step closer to a society that truly has ‘liberty and justice, for all.’”

Thank you for being in community with us and see you next year!


About

Benicia Black Lives Matter is a grassroots community group organized to address anti-Black racism in the city of Benicia. There is a lack of Black representation across City leadership, departments, and voluntary boards. The lack of Black representation tells a story of our complacency as a community and more so, the impact on our Black Benicians lived experience. The good news is, we can rebuild the City of Benicia into a better Benicia, one commitment and one change at a time – and we have a strategy to do so. Our Strategy: Actively Commit to Change. The City of Benicia must commit to a specific vision of what a better, more inclusive and equitable future looks like. For additional information see beniciablacklivesmatter.com.