Juneteenth Opening Ceremony, June 19

The opening ceremony includes the following presentations

Why Juneteenth? Introduction to the 7th Annual Juneteenth Celebration with Founder Ms. Hanan Hameen and Co-Founder Diane X. Brown

Libation: Baba William "Bill" Mathews and Mama Lynette White-Mathews, Seniors Elders of the Council of Elders for African Cultural Heritage (COEACH) of BAM Dance Africa. The Libation is a cultural ceremony in honor and respect of those who have transitioned to the ancestral grounds.

Introduction of the Black National Anthem with hosts Katurah Bryant and Hafeeza Ture

Monique Lenore performing "Lift Every Voice and Sing"

Acknowledgement of the Elders with hosts Katurah Bryant and Hafeeza Ture. The Elder Honoring is an annual tradition and trademark of the Juneteenth Coaliton of Greater New Haven. Each honoree is selected to be part of this revered ceremony that recognizes the work, accomplishments, and dedication of unsung members of the black community. Such persons usually go undetected, unappreciated and unrecognized by the very people they serve and fight for. We, the JCGNH, honor them, put them on the pedestal they deserve to be placed upon and pronounce their position of eldership. Each elder is presented with 3 items: a walking stick, African cloth and a personal gift that highlights and symbolizes the passionate work they have committed their lives to. The highlight of the ceremony is the element of surprise; each recipient does not know they are being honored. They are simply told that their help is required, so they readily say, "Yes, I will come. I will help." While watching the ceremony, African dancers surround them and they realize the actual reason they have been asked to attend. Once surprised, they are escorted by the dancers and drummers, out of the audience and into the Elders Circle, on stage, where they graciously accept their awards. The drummers salute them and the youth, once again, escort them back to their seats among their well wishers.This tradition will lead to the creation of a Council of Elders that will bring the community full circle and bring a return to our way of life as we once lived it, learning at the feet of the Elders.

Greetings and Welcome! Hosts Katurah Bryant and Hafeeza Turé

Performance by singer Edward Beverley

Greetings from National Juneteenth Observance Foundation President Steve Williams. NJOF is a national foundation, including hundreds of local organizations that have been instrumental in the passage of Juneteenth Independence Day legislation. The NJOF advances the right of Freedom through its initiatives including education, health, music, art, and technology creating opportunities for a better life for all. By focusing on these key building blocks the NJOF movement creates long-lasting community change. The NJOF is a call to action for everyone to become a part of the change. Learn more here.

Baba Brian Jarawa Gray performing "Wake Up To a New Day"

Introduction of previous Elder Honorees:

  • Diane X. Brown, librarian, organizer, liaison, advisor
  • Elaine Peters, dancer, historian, doll maker, cultural specialist
  • Brian Jarawa Gray, African drummer, singer
  • Mama Mae Gibson, gospel singer
  • Iman Uqdah Hameen, filmmaker, educator, activist
  • Jesse H. Hameen ll, Master jazz drummer, administrator, educator
  • Prof. Jahad Brumsey, martial arts Master
  • Dr. Jeffie Frazier, school principal
  • Linwood Branham, landscaper, holocaust historian
  • Nabeela Uqdah Nurse, Activist, Organizer, Pioneer, Reparations/Repatriation Trailblazer, Repatriate 
  • Hazel Williams, neighborhood organizer, book club
  • Allen "Rubs" Williams, community organizer, youth officer
  • Aleta Staton, theatre professor, community engagement
  • Deborah Elmore, artist, poet, writer, women's self help services
  • Hanan R. Hameen, professor, Master dancer, administrator, curriculum specialist (Mantle Award - Community Special Recognition Award)

Historical reenactment by Dr. Karima Robinson as Ida B. Wells

Introduction of the Elder Honoring with honoree Elder Hank Bolden

Drum Solo by Baba Brian Jarawa Gray, musical director for Artsucation's Keepers of the Culture Performing Arts Company

Elder Honoring Proclamation from Mayor Elicker to Elder Bolden, Community Honorees - JCGNH Mantle Award

Dancing In Honor of Our Elders (Bantaba): Artsucation's Keepers of the Culture Performing Arts Company. The Bantaba Dancing Circle is a part of our annual Elder honoring ceremony for unsung community elders who have contributed greatly to the New Haven community. We dance in celebration and recognition of the work they have done to lead the way for the following generations.

Diane X. Brown

Diane X. Brown – Senior Branch Manager for Stetson Branch Library and Board Member for the International Festival of Arts & Ideas

Diane X. Brown is a native of New Haven, CT. She has served as the Manager of Stetson Branch Library, NHFPL for the past 15 years. As a 2003 recipient of the Bill and Melinda Gates Fellowship Award she attended Southern Connecticut State University and completed a Master’s Degree in Library Science and Information Technology in 2004. In 2015, she received the prestigious and national, “I Love My Librarian” award from The American Librarian Association and Carnegie Corporation. In 2017, she received a “Special Achievement Award” from the Connecticut Library Association for carrying out her vision to provide sustainable, educational, cultural and artistic programming for her beloved “Village” residents and others throughout greater New Haven. From 2005-2012, Brown served as an Adjunct Professor at SCSU instructing on campus and online, undergraduate and graduate courses in Library Sciences. In 2019, she returned to Buley Library on SCSU campus as a Supervising Librarian. For the past 16 years, Diane has been honored on numerous occasions for her leadership and community activism and has 2 images of her painted in murals throughout the city of New Haven, with a 3rd in the planning stages. Diane’s experience and success as an “Urban Librarian” and community activist has placed her in high demand for motivational speaking engagements and seminars. Additionally, Diane X. Brown currently provides counsel to several organizations and serves on several arts boards including The International Festival of Arts and Ideas.

Hanan Hameen

Hanan Hameen, Doctoral Candidate and Founder of the Artsucation Academy Network and the Annual Juneteenth New Haven Celebration with Arts & Ideas

Ms. Hanan Hameen, Doctoral Candidate is the Founder of the Artsucation™ Academy Network, Ms. Hanan’s Dance and Beyond, New Haven Hip-Hop Conference, Keepers of the Culture Performing Arts Company (KCPAC), and the Premiere Dance Company at Neighborhood Music School. Ms. Hameen is also Artistic Director of the BAM DanceAfrica Candle Bearers founded by Baba Dr. Chuck Davis, and an Adjunct Professor. Currently, Ms. Hameen is pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Administration, Master equivalent in Dance Education, Master of Science in Educational Leadership with an Advanced Certificate in School Building Leadership from Baruch College NY, is a Dance Education Laboratory Alumni, a Lupus support group facilitator, an author, dance mentor, and curriculum developer. Before Lupus diagnosis in 2010, Ms. Hameen performed with 13 dance companies, instructed at 8 colleges and universities in NYC and CT, choreographed for major and independent artists, founded 6 dance companies, and owned/operated 4 dance schools during her dance career of over 30 years. Now being employed disabled, through Artsucational™ events she uplifts the community domestically and abroad. Ms. Hameen’s awards and recognitions include three honors societies and both Arts Council of Greater New Haven 2018 Phenomenal Woman and Artist Commission Awardee. Her doctoral research interests are in STEAM education, culturally relevant instruction, and gifted and talented African-American youth. During this pandemic, Ms. Hameen is hosting an online diasporic class series with former artists from BAM Dance Africa and national and international dance companies. For more information on stretch classes and fitness follow on Facebook Lupie-Licious Fitness or Instagram @Lupie_Licious_Fitness. For more information on Artsucational programming follow us on Facebook ArtsucationAcademyNetwork or Instagram @ArtsucationAcademy.

Katurah A. Bryant


Katurah A. Bryant, RN,LMFT,LADC,NADA-RT is a graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Nursing, and Southern Connecticut State University, with a graduate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist, Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, and a Certified Clinical Supervisor. Ms. Bryant, now retired, was the Assistant Clinical Director at the Connecticut Mental Health Center-Substance Abuse Treatment Unit in New Haven, CT. Ms. Bryant is a Certified National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) Trainer, and currently serves as the Co-Chair of Training. Katurah, under the guidance of Dr. Michael O. Smith, developed a specialized NADA training for Physicians and Advanced Practice clinicians, and has conducted this training annually at the Yale University School of Medicine since 2009. Katurah is a founding partner of MPACT (Multicultural Perspectives in Assessment, Consultation and Training), specializing in Cultural Competence training in health care delivery; Culturally competent supervision; and staff development retreats since 1993. Katurah has worked as a private practice clinician and consultant to various agencies in Connecticut. Ms. Bryant has developed a certificate program, The ZOLA Experience: A Journey of Recovery from Loss, a brief treatment intervention to address grief, trauma and loss. She offers this training to clinicians. Ms. Bryant is the CEO, at Global Alchemy Group, and a VIP Affiliate with Karatbars International, a gold saving and wealth building opportunity. Katurah enjoys dancing (line dancing and swing-out swing dancing); is a NNA Certified Notary Public and Signing Agent with Ascension Mobile Notary; and a Life Member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. www.Globalalchemygroup.com

Hafeeza Turé


Hafeeza Turé is a mother, entrepreneur and gold saver. Introduced to Karatbars International by her father in 2016, she immediately saw the value in this phenomenal opportunity. Since joining she has grown a dynamic team of gold savers and co-created Abundance Is Your Birthright Radio Show. Hafeeza isn’t new to the world of finance, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, cum laude, from Norfolk State University. Subsequently, she has acquired over 18 years of progressive experience in the field. Hafeeza is dedicated to obtaining financial freedom and assisting others with the desire to do the same. Multiple streams of income is paramount in this pursuit. In addition to being a gold saver, Hafeeza is a Forex Trader-in-training, partner in a corporate housing company and a liason for a Black-owned Solar company.

Baba William "Bill" Mathews

Seniors Elder of the Council of Elders for African Cultural Heritage of BAM Dance Africa

This Elder’s journey began in 1965 at Bernice Johnson’s Dance Studio (B.J.’s) in Jamaica, N.Y. “There I was introduced to the tallest man alive, at least up close. This man of course was Baba Chuck Davis. The school was Bernice Johnson’s Dance School. He lit a fire inside of me that pushed me to compete and excel. I lived in dance euphoria until June of 1969. It was then that I learned that my beloved teacher was leaving B.J.’s. I left as well. During an afternoon break from my studies at NYU'’s Dance Department my journey resumed, ran into Baba Chuck. We hugged; and he told me come to a three hour dance class he was teaching at Minisink Townhouse, in Manhattan. Baba Chuck'’s company was scheduled to perform that November. Imagine my surprise and joy when he invited me to join his company. This leg of the journey would become a cornerstone for my life'’s work. Under Baba Chuck'’s supervision and watchful eyes, I found my artistic voice which I was able to meld with my natural affinity for teaching, my chosen major at N.Y.U. I learned how to reach and teach both adults and children. I learned how to use dance as a means of healing. The final leg of the journey began in June of 1977. Baba Chuck'’s dream of an all African Dance extravaganza came to pass. A few years later Baba Chuck invited some of his dancers, musicians and others to become The Council of Elders for Dance Africa. We represented a body of people who would represent a code of conduct that mirrored the respect given to elders back home, in Africa. I learned not only what I thought it meant to be an elder, but how to be an elder.” Baba William “Bill” Mathews was born to the late William and Rose Lee Mathews in East Harlem, N.Y. He attended Benjamin Franklin High School and continued his education at Hostos College in the Bronx. Baba Bill was initiated in the mystery of Obatala, in the Lucumi tradition, by Iya Carol Robinson, (Council Member) and Baba William Wells. He began his work experience with New York City's Human Resources Administration, first as a Human Resources Technician, and finally moving up to his present position as Deputy Assistant Director of the Fraud Investigation Unit. His over 30 years experience trouble shooting new programs for Human Resources Administration and 15 years of management program skills in various agencies in New York City uniquely prepares him to work with community organizations in management positions. He currently is a member of the Homeland Security Crisis Management Agency and Operation Manager for HURREX, Hurricane Evacuation Center for the Office of Emergency Management. Baba Bill joined the Council of Elders 25 years ago, being invited by Baba Chuck Davis. He was also asked to become a member of the Chuck Davis Dance Company's signature group, Ntore, which shows the prowess of the Rwandan Elite warriors. Because of his attention to detail and devoted loyalty to the Council of Elders, he was asked to serve as an assistant to Chief Elder Baba Lee Abrahamson in ceremony. He also, along with Elder Katunge Mimy, works to ensure that the Ancestral Room each and every DanceAfrica, is viewed as an integral piece that honors those whose shoulders we stand on. He is extremely proud of his work in this most important area, as he understands and feels the impact it has on all who visit and praise our fallen leaders in the field of arts and culture. Baba Bill is Committee Chair person for Ijo Yoruba Church, Inc., a member of Omo Obatala Egbe, Inc., an administrative member of the Egbe Iwa Odo Kunrin/Binrin Rites of Passage program, and Ancestral Shrine coordinator for the International African Arts Festival held annually in Brooklyn, N.Y. He is the Chair, Program Committee for the Orisha Community Development Corporation.

Mama Lynette White-Mathews

Mama Lynette is a retired Assistant Principal with the NY City Board of Education, a Senior Elder and officer with the Council of Elders for African Cultural Heritage (COEACH). She heads the CROWNS rites of passage program for young woman, as a Dept. of Education vendor within her own not-for-profit endeavor, On Butterfly Wings, another program to empower young girls.

Monique Lenore

V23Box is a motivational outlet spearheaded by Monique Lenore, an entertainer from Brooklyn. As a lifelong friend of Hanan Hameen; who began the Artsucation Academy; dance & music fill the hearts of many....but so few....actually respond to the call. As a native of Island ---- Montserrat, V23BOX knows how to handle the lava from the volanco...the ash in the air....and as the Mighty Sparrow sang feeling hot hot hot.....V23box is passionate about uplifting, curating, and motivating all Kings and Queens to arise to the challenge of beautifying this World....one earthling at a time. Join us on instagram @v23box 11 am EST daily to be motivated! OUR motto is #letstalkaboutit not acting out everything but talking and navigating our way through. I am honored and appreciate the opportunity to celebrate the 7th annual Juneteenth Coalition of New Haven; Art & Ideas International; and special thanks yo Artsucation Academy for this monumental opportunity.

Edward Beverley

Edward Beverley has been playing music for over 55 years as a songwriter, singer, and musician. Mr. Beverley played on stages across the U.S., in Chicago, North Carolina, South Carolina, N.Y., and many more. Mr. Beverley played with a several talented artists and is looking forward to furthering his career.

Brian Jarawa Gray

Brian Jarawa Gray born in New Haven, CT., Jarawa began his music career in his teen years as a percussionist for the renown jazz band Deja Vu Noir under the mentorship of band leader, the reverend Dr. Dwight Andrews. In Deja vu noir, Jarawa performed alongside the now world renown music artists Pheroan Aklaff, Jay Hoggard, Nat Adderley Jr., Gerri Allen, and a host of others. Jarawa also played Conga, light percussion, before his study and playing of Marimbas, African Djembe and Dun Dun Drums. Jarawa was also a member of the Chuck Davis Dance Company, Kufain Keneke led by Tatchol Camara, drummer for the African Drum and Dance (Nzinga) at Yale University, Music Director and drummer for Konjo African Drum and Dance out of Yale University, Founder, Drummer and Music Director of Kika Ese African Drum and Dance Company. Co-Founder of The Healing Drum Society, Founder Dancer and Drummer for the Total Movement Society, Founder, Band Leader, Music Director of the Vision Contemporary and Jazz music Band, and Musical Director of Artsucation Academy Network’s Keepers of the Culture Performing Arts Company (KCPAC). Jarawa played in many venues across the country including Lincoln Center, 7th Avenue Theater, Woolsey Hall, University of Michigan, and Harvard University. Jarawa taught and instructed drumming at Wesleyan University, Yale University, and Amistad Academy. Jarawa has developed and taught the curriculum he named, Natural Centric Drumming and World Music, which combines African, Afro-Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, Puerto-Rican Bomba, and Native American styles. You may access, hear, and see Jarawa’s work on YouTube, Facebook, United Masters, iTunes, and SoundCloud as Blackfist Productions.

Karima A. Robinson

Ida B. Wells - Historical Reenactment

Karima A. Robinson, PhD is a playwright, performer, theatre director, and educator. Dr. Robinson performs excerpts of her solo-performance piece about poet Phillis Wheatley entitled, Farewell to America: A Phillis Wheatley Story. She is currently developing a play about the life of anti-lynching advocate Ida B. Wells entitled, Colored People’s Day: Ida B. Wells at the Chicago World’s Fair. Dr. Robinson has directed staged readings of her plays Outraged! and Ivory.

Hank Bolden

Elder Honoree

Henry "Hank" Bolden, a New Haven native, born on May 7, 1937, had a propensity for creating, building, repairing and redesigning at an early age. Neighborhood friends always went to Hank, which he prefers to be called, to repair their bicycles or to buy customized bicycles that he made using old parts. In his youthful years, he also became known to some for being a great musician in the tri-state area. Later in life, Bolden earned a reputation for being a master creator of fiberglass automotive parts on Dixwell Avenue, as owner of his establishment, "Hank’s Custom Fiberglass". He is the roasted corn on the cob guy, who owned and operated the "Korny Boyz Roasted Corn on the Cob" stand. As a role model, mentor to many and a community presence, his entrepreneurial endeavors and work with veterans yielded him associations with U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy. He is also a Spokesperson for Veteran's Affairs.

Presently, Hank is making headlines for something he did not choose to be, a subject of human experimentation and a survivor of a nuclear atomic blast while stationed in the United States Army during the Korean War. Although Hank always welcomed challenges in his life, he was not quite prepared for what happened to him two years after enlisting.

In 1953, Bolden registered in the U.S Army at the age of 16 by forging his birth certificate to show he was of age. Sworn in and shipped off to basic camp in California during the 1950’s, at a time when segregation was and is still being practiced in some parts of the United States, Hank found himself, as a northern black man defending some of the southern black men who were being hassled by the white soldiers. He would often overhear the racial slurs being said to the other black soldiers and wound up in fights defending them. When he was told he was selected for a “Special Military Exercise”, he was not sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing, he just knew he was ordered to pack his gear to be shipped out to Desert Rock, Nevada.

Once there, along with hundreds of soldiers from all over the country, he was given the assignment to go to a specific trench, with no explanation, miles out in the field along with other soldiers, who he soon realized were black like him. Once in the trench, over the loud speaker he could hear a countdown from ten to zero...Then came a bright flash and a loud explosion, which Hank later learned was the dropping of an “atomic bomb”. Hank and his fellow soldiers were "involuntarily volunteered" to be in an experiment to see how human beings would ultimately be affected. More importantly, how it would affect "Black individuals.” as there is a myth that Blacks can and normally do withstand conditions better than their counterparts.

Hank Bolden and the other soldiers were in a PREDETERMINED PATH OF THE ATOMIC FALLOUT'S dust and extreme heat wave, since he was positioned just 2.8 miles away. All this with no Special Protective gear, just their helmets, fatigues and hands to shield their eyes. Hank said he vividly remembers opening his eyes during the flash, only to realize he could see through his hands like an x-ray, see his own skeleton and the skeletons of others. After the clean up, Hank and his fellow soldiers were each sworn to secrecy to not speak of this experiment among themselves, to their families nor to any doctor. If they were found to have talked about it to anyone they would each face a punishment of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Hank not knowing any of the soldiers that he was stationed with during his abominable time in Desert Rock, found it easy not to talk about it to any one, remaining silent, until one day in 1996.

While searching on the internet in 1996, an unknown fact appeared. Then President William J. Clinton, had formally apologized on behalf of the U.S Army for subjecting the soldiers to this type of experimentation.The apology was eclipsed by news from the O.J. Simpson trial. Clinton lifted the ban on speaking of even being a participant in this unforgivable experiment. The government ruled that any surviving atomic blast veteran involved would be provided any and all medical benefits and compensation for life. Bolden was 59 years old.

All this was great news to Hank. Something he waited a lifetime to hear. He was relieved knowing that he would be able to receive full coverage from the U.S government for all of his medical issues, which were becoming more and more costly. With his health issues being taken care of, Bolden wondered about the fulfillment of the compensation promised for being gravely wronged. He had not received a penny or word about that. This is where things became sketchy. With no records in his possession to prove that he was in fact, in Nevada, he had no evidence. Top secret records are not given to soldiers. Questionably or not, the sealed records of the soldiers who participated in the experiment were destroyed during a fire in the Hall of Arms Records Repository office in 1973.

Fortunately, Bolden could not be denied Medical benefits. He continued his treatments for all of his health issues, but was told that he would probably live for only another 3 - 4 years, which meant that Hank was supposed to be dead by 1995. Thinking what we all know, "the Devil is a Liar", not only did Hank continue to live, but now Hank was even more resolute to prove that he was in fact, at the testing site and was involuntarily exposed to what is now determined to be “ionizing radiation”, all a result of the atomic blast, something the government knows well. Demanding an answer, Hank met with Government and Army officials but was denied compensation on the grounds of lack of records. Knowing the kind of man Hank is, this decision was not going away so easily. (Note: This writer, his son, Anthony, thinks the Government was hoping he would die before they would have to compensate him for he was in line to receive compensation for the rest of his natural life.)

With his back against the wall, Henry Bolden, survivor, decided to take a polygraph test because he was told that this was one of the ways to possibly prove his being in Desert Rock, Nevada during the experiment. With perseverance, Hank found a polygraph operator that formerly worked for the FBI to conduct his polygraph. Mind you this was all at Hank’s expense. Now armed with credible proof of being there based on the polygraph, Hank was ready to do battle. He continued his battle for years and years. Finally, in 2019, at age 82, Hank was awarded monetary compensation for all of his suffering from exposure to ionizing radiation from the atomic blast. What a relief! Hank is now being compensated for the most inhumane experience anyone could live through, with full medical benefits and monthly checks for the rest of his natural life. He currently resides in Cheshire, CT, with his wife of 63 years, Cynthia.

For additional stories regarding Hank Bolden's incredible journey, Google search his name and Atomic Bomb Veterans.

Keepers of the Culture Performing Arts Company (KCPAC)

The Keepers of the Culture Performing Arts Company (KCPAC) was created by Ms. Hanan Hameen, Doctoral Candidate, as a means to display cultures of the African diaspora through live dance, song, and music. Our members include our Artsucators who teach and facilitate programs in the community and schools using the Artsucation curriculum and teaching methodology. Artsucation™ is the formal and successful interdisciplinary application of the Arts as creative sciences with traditional academic subjects. Our mission is to provide young people, ages 3 to 21, with passion, drive, and creative and leadership skills in order to elevate their sense of self-worth and make them more productive adults in society by offering instructional programs in dance and music that are embedded with history, literacy and social context elements, whereby the participants will be given responsibilities and opportunities to experience success in every lesson.