The Santa Maria-Lompoc branch of the NAACP hosts its fifth annual Juneteenth celebration

Photo courtesy of Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt
REMEMBERING HISTORY: Live music, educational opportunities, health care screenings, face painting, spoken word poetry, and a guest speaker were at the 2022 Juneteenth event in Lompoc and will return this year on June 17.

June 19, 1865, marked the end of slavery in the United States, with Texas ending slavery two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. 

“[Former slaves] celebrated the end of a very brutal and horrific time in their lives where they were treated less than,”said Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt, the Santa Maria-Lompoc NAACP branch president. “We continue the celebration because it’s our history. The story needs to be told, and it’s important the story continues to be told because it’s our history.” 

The Santa Maria-Lompoc branch of the NAACP will be hosting its fifth annual Juneteenth celebration on June 17 on the 100th block of South H Street in Old Town Lompoc. The event will feature live music and dance performances, spoken poetry, food and drinks, and Masson Blow as the keynote speaker, Lyons-Pruitt said. 

Blow grew up in Lompoc and was a “star athlete” in football and wrestling. He excelled academically and received a partial scholarship to Cal Poly, she said. 

“His first year at Cal Poly, I believe, he was driving above the speed limit and resulted in a car accident. Two people were killed and an infant was injured. He is here coming to tell his story of redemption,” Lyons-Pruitt said. 

He was sentenced to a year and served six months in the SLO County Jail, was placed on probation for six years, and worked 500 hours of community service. During this time, he faced a lot of adversity and suffered from depression as he worked to rebuild his life, she said. He went back to school and earned his doctorate in veterinary medicine from Oregon State University—becoming one of the first Black men to earn that degree at the school. 

“He’s [coming] to share his story with young people about turning that negative into positive and having his Christian faith as a foundation and [using] that to overcome,” Lyons-Pruitt said. 

Along with Blow’s speech, there will be a free health and wellness area that will provide COVID-19 vaccines, other immunizations, and blood pressure and glucose level tests offered by Santa Barbara County Behavioral Wellness, Community Health Centers of the Central Coast, Planned Parenthood, and Savie Health, she said. 

“I think that health should always be included in the events that we do. The reason for that is if you look at the statistics for Black, Indigenous, People of Color—BIPOC—you see in almost every category: cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, renal failure. We lead in those areas,” Lyons-Pruitt said.

There needs to be more education offered for BIPOC communities surrounding their vitals and health care, she added, and the NAACP can help overcome a hurdle for many individuals by providing free health care at its events. 

“We need to go to the community rather than the community to come to us. We need to go into the heart of the community and make us available any time we have programming,” Lyons-Pruitt said. 

The Santa Maria Joint Union High, Santa Maria-Bonita, and Lompoc Unified school districts will also participate in an education section with a book mobile to check out books, plus face painting and parents can sign their kids up for the new transitional-kindergarten programs at Santa Maria-Bonita and Lompoc Unified. 

The League of Women Voters and the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party will be helping people register to vote. The NAACP is a nonpartisan organization and is open to the Republican Party coming out as well, she added. 

“We just want to celebrate. It’s a sad history, but it’s a good history, and it’s a day to celebrate, to reflect, and to remember,” Lyons-Pruitt said. 

The NAACP’s portion will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and its community partner—PCH Wine Salon and Lounge—will take over to provide live music until 8 p.m. Visit for more information. 


• The Boys and Girls Club of Mid Central Coast announced its Campaign for Kids Fundraising Drive, which aims to raise funds to support the organization’s programs and services. This year, the campaign has a goal of raising $300,000 between June and August. The organization provides a safe and positive environment where children and teenagers can develop confidence, build new skills, and form meaningful relationships with their peers and adult mentors. The Campaign for Kids Fundraising Drive will provide critical support for the Boys and Girls Club of Mid Central Coast’s ongoing operations, including after-school programs, summer camps, and tutoring and academic support. For more information, visit

Reach Staff Writer Taylor O’Connor at [email protected].

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