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Hayward Juneteenth Observances Begin with Downtown Street Party on June 15

The events begin with the first of the summer season of Hayward Chamber of Commerce- presented Thursday street parties—with this party being produced in partnership with Hayward Juneteenth celebration organizers from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 15, at B and Main Streets.

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Observing a display at a recent Juneteenth in Hayward. Juneteenthhayward.com photo.
Observing a display at a recent Juneteenth in Hayward. Juneteenthhayward.com photo.

By Chuck Finnie

Celebrated annually on June 19, Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day and Freedom Day, is an observance of the effective end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Union Army Major Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce the end of both the Civil War and slavery.

Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, will be observed in Hayward with a downtown street party, live music festival and flying of the Pan African Flag on City Hall Plaza.

The events begin with the first of the summer season of Hayward Chamber of Commerce- presented Thursday street parties—with this party being produced in partnership with Hayward Juneteenth celebration organizers from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 15, at B and Main Streets.

Online Readathon. Starting at 8 a.m., go to www.facebook.com/haywardlibrary and listen to literary pieces by and about African Americans.

The Hayward Juneteenth Street Party will feature live musical performances, a family-fun zone, a beer and wine garden, food and a classic car show.

Next, on Saturday, June 17, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the West Coast Blues Society will present the Hayward Russell City Juneteenth Celebration music festival on the plaza behind City Hall with jazz, blues, R&B and gospel performances, including a special guest appearance by the legendary Johnny Rawls, of Hattiesburg, Miss. For more information, call (510) 472-8800 or visit www.westcoastbluessociety.org.

Then, on Monday, June 19, the national Juneteenth Day of Observance, the Pan-African flag will be flown on City Hall Plaza, a practice the City of Hayward began in 2021 during Black History Month, on Juneteenth, as well as on Aug. 17, the birthday of civil-rights activist Marcus Garvey, as an expression of the City’s commitment to Black liberation and diversity, equity and inclusion.

clamation, Union Army Major Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce the end of both the Civil War and slavery.

Arts and Culture

Oakland Jazz Great Offers Master Class as City Declares “John Handy Day”

World-renowned jazz master saxophonist John Handy, a McClymond’s High School graduate, was presented with a Mayor of Oakland Proclamation declaring Feb. 12, as John Handy Day in the city. Handy is most notably known as the featured saxophonist for Charles Mingus on “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” from the album “Mingus Ah Um” (1959) and on “Hard Work” from his own album “Hard Work” (1976).

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(L-R) Del Handy, John Handy, Roger Glenn, and Joe Warner celebrate John Handy Day at Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, Oakland. Photo by Lady Bianca.
(L-R) Del Handy, John Handy, Roger Glenn, and Joe Warner celebrate John Handy Day at Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, Oakland. Photo by Lady Bianca.

By Conway Jones

World-renowned jazz master saxophonist John Handy, a McClymond’s High School graduate, was presented with a Mayor of Oakland Proclamation declaring Feb. 12, as John Handy Day in the city.

Handy is most notably known as the featured saxophonist for Charles Mingus on “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” from the album “Mingus Ah Um” (1959) and on “Hard Work” from his own album “Hard Work” (1976).

“John Handy is a jazz icon and an inspiration to musicians everywhere,” said Ayo Brame, a 16-year-old Oakland tenor saxophone player who is enrolled at the Oakland School for the Arts.

In celebration of this day, the reception in downtown Oakland at Geoffrey’s Inner Circle was a gathering of artists, young and old, coming together in his honor and celebrating his 91st birthday.

Handy presented a Saxophone Colossus free masterclass for musicians. This class afforded a rare opportunity to learn about the saxophone from an aficionado. The class was free and open to all – saxophonists, vocalists, aficionados, students, and casual listeners.

“As a longtime friend for over 60 years, and fellow musician who has had numerous opportunities to share the stage with John, it has always been a pleasure performing with him and hearing his creative interpretations of the music and his gift of ease inspiring the next generation of jazz musicians,” said Roger Glenn, a multi-instrumentalist.

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Arts and Culture

Musical Chronicling Life of Betty Reid Soskin Set for Bay Area Debut

Betty Reid Soskin’s storied 102 years includes time spent as a WWII defense worker, activist, business owner, songwriter, National Park Service park ranger and so much more. Now the Richmond icon is the subject of a musical based on her incredible life.

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Betty Reid Soskin. Photo courtesy of Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond.
Betty Reid Soskin. Photo courtesy of Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond.

The Richmond Standard

Betty Reid Soskin’s storied 102 years includes time spent as a WWII defense worker, activist, business owner, songwriter, National Park Service park ranger and so much more. Now the Richmond icon is the subject of a musical based on her incredible life.

Sign My Name to Freedom,” a San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company (SFBATCO) production which will focus on the life, music and writing of Ms. Soskin, will premiere at San Francisco’s Z Space Friday, March 29 and continue through Saturday, April 13. Tickets range from $15–$65 and can be purchased online at https://www.sfbatco.org/smntf

The musical is directed by Elizabeth Carter, while playwright Michael Gene Sullivan integrates Ms. Soskin’s own music throughout dialogue between what SFBATCO calls “The Four Bettys” as they progress through a century of experiences of this awe-inspiring American woman.

The cast of “Sign My Name to Freedom” features Tierra Allen as Little Betty, Aidaa Peerzada as Married Betty, Lucca Troutman as Revolutionary Betty and Cathleen Riddley as Present Betty Reid Soskin, according to Artistic Director Rodney Earl Jackson Jr. and Managing Director Adam Maggio. Other casting will be announced in the future.

Jackson said that having Soskin’s blessing to steward her life’s story is an honor and career highlight for him and that her journey stands as “a beacon for Black Americans, women and people of color all across the world [and] is a testament to the strength of the human spirit.”

San Francisco’s Z Space is located at 450 Florida St. in San Francisco. Check out the trailer here at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-ap9N2XBB0

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Arts and Culture

Gov. Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom Host 2024 Hall of Fame Ceremony

Former Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and three other African Americans were among 10 luminaries inducted into the 2024 Class of the California Hall of Fame on Feb. 8. The 17th Annual California Hall of Fame ceremony was held at the California Museum.

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Willie Brown, Former California Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor, was proud to be among the Hall of Fame inductees. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.
Willie Brown, Former California Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor, was proud to be among the Hall of Fame inductees. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

By California Black Media

Former Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and three other African Americans were among 10 luminaries inducted into the 2024 Class of the California Hall of Fame on Feb. 8.

The 17th Annual California Hall of Fame ceremony was held at the California Museum.

“The California Hall of Fame is one of our families’ favorite traditions as it is a time to come together to celebrate remarkable Californians as well as their loved ones because we know that it is about partnerships,” Siebel Newsom said. “The governor likes to say that California is a dream factory because it doesn’t matter what zip code or background you come from, the California dream is alive and well to everyone who calls this state home.”

The other Black honorees were filmmaker Ava DuVernay; Federal Judge and civil rights leader, the Hon. Thelton Henderson; and basketball Hall of Fame player and broadcaster Cheryl Miller.

“It’s what I’ve been waiting for and to be among a great group of individuals that also deserve the honor,” Brown told California Black Media on the event’s red carpet before the ceremony began. “No, I never thought someone from Texas would be recognized this way. But here I am, and it all happened in the great state of California. It’s a fantastic feeling.”

Other 2024 inductees are: master chef and “mother of fusion cuisine” Helene An; computer scientist and “father of the internet” Vincent A. Cerf; all-female pop punk band The Go-Gos; Chicano Rock band Los Lobos; former U.S. Secretary of Defense and Congressman Leon E. Panetta; and artistic director and choreographer Brenda Way.

This year’s honorees join a history-making club with over 150 inspirational Californians previously inducted for their groundbreaking achievements and personifying the state’s innovative spirit.

“It’s just a humbling experience. I want to thank the Governor and First Partner. Who would have thought 100 years ago (that I would be inducted?) It’s incredible,” Miller said after her induction. “I want to thank the governor and First Partner for an incredible event.”

During his acceptance speech, Henderson said he was deeply honored.

“You know, it really would have been a really big deal to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the area where I grew up, for example, South Central Hall of Fame, or the Watts Hall of Fame, or the Straight Out of Compton Hall of Fame,” he said. “But being inducted into the California Hall of Fame, Hall of Fame of the greatest state in the country in this great nation is something else.”

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