This February, Dune Coffee Roasters collaborated with Healing Justice Santa Barbara on a coffee blend that donates a portion of its proceeds to the organization’s programs for the Central Coast Black community. Stephanie Gerson / Daily Nexus

This February, Black-owned businesses and community organizations are collaborating in several different ways for Black History Month under Santa Barbara County’s theme of “Black History: More Than A Month.” From soul food and live performances to cultural activities and limited-time food fundraisers, there’s no shortage of ways to celebrate and uplift Black culture and community in Santa Barbara this month and all year long. 

Throughout the month, Soul Bites Restaurant, an establishment with a menu of comforting soul food favorites at 423 State Street, has been hosting an event series organized by the Santa Barbara Black Culture House. The Santa Barbara Black Culture House was founded in 2020 by Santa Barbara residents Darrell M. McNeill and Sally A. Foxen-McNeill as a pop-up space to celebrate Black history, culture and art. Curated by the McNeill’s, the events in the organization’s annual Black History Month series have included poetry slams, book readings and live music performances. The final installments of the series include music by the Funky Neighbors on Feb. 24 and a live reading of Richard Wesley’s play ‘The Talented Tenth’ by The Robey Theatre Company on Feb. 25. Both events will be held from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and are free to the public. 

Santa Barbara bean roastery Dune Coffee Roasters has partnered with Healing Justice Santa Barbara, a nonprofit organization focused on fostering resilience for the African diaspora and other marginalized communities along the Central Coast, on a special coffee blend that serves both your tastebuds and the community. The limited edition Healing Justice SB Whole Bean Blend features a rich combination of dark chocolate and stone fruits and is available for purchase at any of Dune Coffee’s locations and online throughout February. With every purchase, 40% of the proceeds go directly to Healing Justice Santa Barbara. The organization is also hosting its annual, sold-out Black is Beautiful Gala & Fundraiser on Feb. 23 to raise funds for their programs which currently include conversations with Black community members and BIPOC community organizers, documenting Black history through installations and storytelling sessions for Black youth featuring children’s books that center their stories.

On Feb. 27, the Isla Vista Recreation & Park District is hosting the annual Forward Ever, Backward Never event from 4-8 p.m. at the Isla Vista Community Center. This community event honoring Black History is a collaborative event with the UC Santa Barbara Black Student Union and Office of Black Student Development. The evening’s programming features live music, free food catered by Soul Bites, raffles, Black history games, an indigenous drum circle by Groupo Tolteca Izkalotl and rock painting.

Juneteenth Santa Barbara, an organization that plans an annual Juneteenth celebration in downtown Santa Barbara, is extending its dedication to uplifting the local Black community through culinary-centered fundraising all month long. Spanish tapas restaurant Loquita, located in the Funk Zone, is serving a new cocktail with the mission of Juneteenth in mind named “Los Quinteros,” attributed to Luis and Maria Quintero, who were trailblazers from Africa and settled in Southern California in the late eighteenth century, making a considerable impact on the area’s community and culture. Also in collaboration with Juneteenth Santa Barbara, La Paloma Cafe is featuring the “Iquales” cocktail on its drink menu this month, which consists of nosotros reposado, brucato amaro chaparral, amaro angeleno, orgeat, pineapple and lime. With every cocktail purchased at each establishment, one dollar of the proceeds will be donated to Juneteenth Santa Barbara.

A version of this article appeared on p. 12 of the February 22, 2024 version of the Daily Nexus.


Stephanie Gerson
Stephanie Gerson is a fourth-year Art History major and On the Menu Co-Editor. She can usually be found taking long walks, wandering about museums or grocery shopping.