Collage of six pictures. Three Buffalo Soldiers in uniform holding flags. Dr. Faheema Mustafaa at a podium in front of a large presentation screen that says "Healing through Scholarship and Awareness: Black Adolescent Girls on Defining Well-Being, and Identifying Supports and Threats to Well-Being. Dr. Ebony Lewis performing. Kimberly Evans speaking with James Aboagye holding a microphone. Kast Academy Dancers in colorful clothing. Denisha "Coco" Bland performing in front of a presentation screen.
Picture above (clockwise from top left): the Buffalo Soldiers; Dr. Faheema N. Mustafaa, assistant professor, UC Davis School of Education; Dr. Ebony Lewis, chief strategy officer, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Kimberly Evans and James Aboagye, chairs, African American Faculty Staff Association at UC Davis; Kast Academy Dancers; Denisha "Coco" Bland, associate director, Sacramento Area Youth Speaks.

"Together We Heal" Juneteenth 2023

UC Davis Celebrates

Quick Summary

  • On Sunday, June 4, UC Davis hosted the community for an early celebration of Juneteenth.
  • The event highlighted youth voice, healing, and history.

On Sunday, June 4, UC Davis hosted the community for an early celebration of Juneteenth.

DEI's Aggie Black Excellence project presented one segment of the full day program, which featured healing, tributes to veterans and youth performance. Tessa Smith served as Master of Ceremony. Dr. Ebony Lewis, chief strategy officer, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion opened the event with a traditional libation ceremony. Lewis honored the legacy of our ancestors as foundational when looking into the future toward new ideas and innovations. The libation ceremony was followed by a tribute to veterans, with the Buffalo Soldiers and the Tuskegee Airmen on hand to mark the occasion. Chancellor Gary S. May and Dr. Renetta Garrison Tull, vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion both gave remarks.

Youth participation was a particular focus of the day's events. The Kast Academy Dancers performed two pieces—one related to Black Lives Matter and a modern, beat-filled version of the Princess and the Frog. "It was an unforgettable experience," Lewis said, "They were killing it! They did not come to play, they came to slay, and that they did." The Grant High School Drumline also brought people to their feet, with a New Orleans-style performance that reminded one spectator of her childhood in Louisiana.

The DEI program, organized by the Aggie Black Excellence project, centered healing and the arts. Members of the Sacramento Area Youth Speaks (SAYS) spoken word slam team performed some of the same pieces they will be taking to the Brave New Voices competition. Denisha "Coco" Bland, associate director, connected the competition to the broader aims of SAYS, including its Project HEAL curriculum, which inspires at-promise youth to find their voice as a path to finding their future in their schools, families, and communities. Bland also read from her recent book, The Makings of a Project Queen: A street-tale of a Hood Scholar.

As part of the Aggie Black Excellence segment, Dr. Ebony Lewis performed a gospel melody culminating in her own original piece, representing the rich history and significance of the Black church. Dr. Faheema N. Mustafaa, assistant professor of Education and a scholar on the experience of Black Girls in California, discussed the importance of research for community awareness and connection.

The atmosphere and intentions for the day focused on love, community, and healing and infused all the activities of the day, even the African market place to the food vendors to all of the speakers and performers. On hand to feed both the soul and the stomach were Black-owned businesses: Underground Books, Nash & Proper, 1Healthy Juicery, Jah Herbs N Roots, Yummy Honey Co, Ruby Ellen's Bakery, Rainbow Italian Ice, Gold Mine Desserts, Brown Rice Bakery and Famous Fatso's Nana Pudding.

Yolo Juneteenth Festival is supported, in part, by the Yolo County Library, Friends of the Davis Public Library, the City of Davis Human Relations Commission and Arts & Cultural Affairs Program and with the support from the UC Davis Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. It is scheduled before the holiday so that families can also participate in their own local community festivals.

View highlights from past events at the Yolo Juneteenth Celebration Website.

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