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2024 Festival of Masks Program Bese Saka: Our Wealth is Our Togetherness

14th Annual Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks

at the Leimert Park Art Walk


Sunday, June 30, 2024



Welcome to our 14th installment of Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks at the Leimert Park Art Walk. This year’s theme, Bese Saka: Our Wealth is Our Togetherness, pays homage to outstanding community members who have passed on with a day of creative expression that engages the entire Los Angeles community in a celebration that honors all they left behind. In the ancient Adinkra symbolic system, “Bese Saka,” or ‘sack full of cola nuts’ represents wealth, affluence, and unity.

Leimert Park's Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks is an annual celebration of our ancestors and an invocation for the South Central LA community. Founded in 2010 by artists Najite Agindotan and Ben Caldwell in collaboration with LA Commons, Festival of Masks is a multicultural, multigenerational arts event that champions the vast identities of the African diaspora.

Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks is the artistic culmination of months of work to explore art and ideas and connect to the African diaspora through a procession and festival on the streets of Leimert Park Village, the cultural heart of Black Los Angeles. Artists and culture bearers lead workshops inviting people of all ages to spend time communing with their ancestors, making masks and giant puppets and learning movement, rhythm and song. Festival day is a joyful spectacle and spiritual experience that uplifts individual expression and collective creativity and brings the community together across generations, in a celebration of multiplicity and unity.

We invite you to join in the blessing and libation ceremony, invoking community reflection and healing, in the procession through our streets, symbolizing the people's power and capacity to take ownership over our communities, address challenges, and create change and in the performances following. 


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LA COMMONS

Headquartered in Leimert Park, LA Commons, a project of Community Partners, works in neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles facilitating issue-driven public art projects that inspire creativity in everyone. We engage communities in artistic and cultural expression that tells their unique stories and serve as a basis for dialogue, interaction, understanding and organizing for a more just and equitable Los Angeles.



LEIMERT PARK ARTWALK

Leimert Park Village has a long history of being the center of African American arts and culture. Held on the last Sunday of each month, Leimert Park Artwalk invites the public to share a day of art exhibitions, music, fashion, food, drumming, spoken word, and local shopping. Throughout the day, cultural spaces, artist studios, and storefronts in the village also have offerings ranging from free computer seminars and specialty vendors to film screenings, youth theater performances, and live bands.



ANCESTORS

Leimert Park Village uplifted six ancestors to honor at

the 2024 Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks



Portrait by Sculptor Tina Allen


Lady Walquer Vereen was a dancer, performer, teacher, and co-founder of the Dance Collective at 4327 S. Degnan Blvd. Lady Walquer was instrumental in carrying forward the Katherine Dunham technique in modern dance. Lady Walquer’s opulence and prolific legacy of community building highlight the richness that unfolds when we celebrate and dance together.




Artwork by Enk One


Alfred and Bernice Ligon were the proprietors and owners of the Aquarian Bookshop and Aquarian Spiritual Center in Los Angeles, CA, the longest continuously owned black bookstore in the U.S. The Aquarian Bookshop held a robust collection of books, journals, media, art, and related materials from more than half a century representing history, culture, philosophy, and the life of African Americans and the African Diaspora in Los Angeles. The Ligons' legacy as bearers of historical and spiritual knowledge reminds us to look to the past and to look within for riches untold.




Artwork by Aise Born


John Outterbridge was a world renowned  American Assemblage artist and community activist who lived and worked in Los Angeles, California. He was the  director of the Watts Towers Arts Center for 17 years and made powerful sculptures from items usually dismissed as junk — a means of exploring loaded social issues and celebrating a history of African-American resourcefulness.




Portrait by Patrick Johnson


Snake Doctor was a legendary Leimert Park artist, philosopher, and master jeweler. His creations and musings uplifted the exuberance and style found in daily life. His tutelage and words of wisdom to the youth, community folk, and passersby are gems that live on in the community. Snake Doctor’s legacy embodies the treasures and wealth of connection and storytelling that live on from generation to generation.




Portrait by Jazzmyne Reese


Harold Hambrick, Jr. a.k.a. “The Bull'' was a businessman and influential healthcare advocate for residents of low-income communities in South LA. Harold Hambrick was the President of the LA Black Business Expo, Vice President of the Watts Health Foundation, and President of the Watts United Credit Union that made the rebirth of the Mfundi Institute possible. Harold Hambrick’s legacy of advocacy and business prowess reminds us that our wealth is our health!





Portrait by Mohammed Mubarak


Artist, master jeweler, community activist and business owner Sika Dwimfo, known as the “Baba of Leimert Park” moved to Los Angeles when he was 31 years old. He became a cornerstone of the Leimert Park community and, since 1992, owned and operated Sika Gallery on Degnan Boulevard. The shop, stocked with jewelry made by Sika, racks of dashikis, beaded necklaces, Ghanaian baskets and Mali mudcloth, weathered the 1992 riots, economic downturns, changing demographics and, more recently, rapid gentrification and the COVID-19 shutdown.



Bese Saka

Our Wealth is Our Togetherness

2024 Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks

at the Leimert Park Art Walk


Sunday, June 30, 2024


Noon


BLESSING


Blessing and Libations: Imodoye Shabazz


Drum Call: Najite Agindotan


1:00 PM



PROCESSION


We continue in the tradition of stopping four times to give offering of acknowledgment and celebration, a call to action, and a prayer for the future of our community.


SECTION ONE

Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks


SECTION TWO

Bese Saka: Our Wealth is Our Togetherness + Sika Dwimfo

S.H.I.N.E. MUWASI 

Community Coalition

Milan Dwimfo


SECTION THREE

Lady Walquer Vereen


Janiece Blunt and Students 

Pat Taylor and dance community


SECTION FOUR

Snake Doctor


Clarence and C3 Jazz


SECTION FIVE

Bernice and Alfred Ligon


Spiritual community

June Jubilee at Octavia Lab participants


SECTION SIX

John Outterbridge


Tami Outterbridge and Outterbridge friends, family and community 


SECTION SEVEN

Harold Hambrick


LA LA



2:30 - 6:00 PM



PERFORMANCES

Welcome


Opening Drum/Dance: S.H.I.N.E. MUWASI

MC: Michael D.McCarty

Karen Mack, LA Commons


Tribute for Sika Dwimfo


S.H.I.N.E. MUWASI


Tribute for Lady Walquer Vereen


Pat Taylor, Kwami Adams, Lula Washington 

Jan Blunt elementary students and Lula Washington 

Music by Ballet Dembaya


Tribute for Bernice and Alfred Ligon


Raymond Shields 

Jimetta Rose and Voices of Creation

S. Pearl Sharp

Presentation of the Serapis


Tribute for John Outterbridge


Kamau Kamau Daáood 

Dwight Trible

Ben Caldwell

Charles Dickson

Tami Outterbridge 

Dwight Trible Band

Tribute for Snake Doctor


Clarence and C3 Jazz  

Sri Snake Doctor Junior

Jae Jae and Joey


Tribute for Harold Hambrick


Torrence Brannon Reese and Everything with Soul 

Darryl Hambrick

Muriel Shabazz

Torrence Brannon Reese


__________________________________________________



BESE SAKA SATURDAYS

FACILITATORS AND PARTNERS


West African Dance

Daunté "KINGTAE" Fyall and DAANSEKOU


Ancestor Mask Making

Ronieka Pinkney 

Maria Elena Cruz 

Aiysha Sinclair

Ka’lynn Youngblood


African Drumming with Mama Nene

Rene Fisher-Mims, Founder of S.H.I.N.E. Muwasi



FESTIVAL OF MASKS YOUTH WORKSHOPS


Leimert Park Cultural Organizer

Nia McClinton


Youth Mentor 

Nalini Sadler


Sankofa Youth Leaders

Maximo Solace

Dominique Whyte

Timberlynn Tucker

Ajoure Naulls 

Ashley Lomeli Reyes

Jessica Lomeli Reyes 

Adam Zosar 

Nohemí Lomeli Reyes

Angel Stormborn

Queen Tee

Aniya Cornejo 

Ayomide Aborisade 

Kalia Zionara Martinez 

Mateo Barrientos

Rebekah Decoursey 

Giorvanny Durandisse

Gael Hernandez

Hassani Muhammad 

Tayshaun Humes 

A'Riya Gooden 

Jada Robinson 



2024 MASK FESTIVAL LEADERSHIP CIRCLE

Ronieka Pinkney

Ben Caldwell

Rene Fisher-Mims

Adé Neff

Randal Henry

Karen Mack



2024 MASK FESTIVAL PROJECT TEAM

Tamica Washington-Miller, Artistic Convener 

Joyce Maddox, Mask Festival Event/Production Manager

David Jackson, Instrument Audio Services LLC, Sound and Audio 

Nia McClinton, Leimert Park Cultural Organizer 

Aiysha Sinclair, Multimedia Designer 

Raylene Lopez, Multimedia Designer

John Freeland, Jr., Event Stage Manager



LA COMMONS STAFF

Anahit Poturyan, Development Coordinator

Beth Peterson, Community Arts Program Director 

Briana Rivera, Communications Coordinator

Dena Cheng, Development and Communications Manager

Elizabeth Cho, Program Manager - Partnerships

Guillermo Alvarez, Cultural Organizer 

Indeya Eubank, Program Coordinator - Cultural Treasures of South LA 

James Keum, Operations Coordinator

Joré Aaron, Executive Assistant & Special Projects Coordinator

Kaitwan Jackson, Program Manager - Cultural Treasures of South LA 

Karen Mack, Executive Director

Leslie Tamaribuchi, Operations and Strategy Director 

Rosio Romero, Cultural Organizer 

Nia McClinton, Cultural Organizer

Sara Castro, Cultural Organizer

Susie Garcia, Operations Manager

Valery Mendoza-Martinez, Community Arts Program Manager 



PARTNERS

KAOS Network

Leimert Park ArtWalk

The World Stage

Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center

ECWA Empowerment Congress West Area

Leimert Park Jazz Festival

Fernando Pullum Community Arts

Lula Washington Dance Theater

Fowler Museum

Community Coalition

Wellnest LA 

Urban Soul Farmer

SoLA Impact

Black Women for Wellness

Jenesse

YWCA Greater Los Angeles

Nappily Naturals

William Grant Still Art Center

Aziz Gallerie

Ackee Bamboo

ORA



FUNDERS

City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs

LA Care 

Holly J. Mitchell, Supervisorial District 2, County of Los Angeles

Heather Hutt, Council District 10, City of Los Angeles

ECWA Empowerment Congress West Area

Public Allies

LA County Department of Arts and Culture

LA County Department of Youth Development

Wellnest LA

Dwight Stuart Youth Fund 

California Arts Council 

The California Endowment 














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