Juneteenth Opening Ceremony, Elder Honoring, and Mantle Award

With the Official Juneteenth Coalition of Greater New Haven



The Juneteenth Opening Ceremony will include messages by Mayor Justin Elicker and Elder Byron Breland, as well as performances by Dr. Karima Robinson as Ida B. Wells, Keepers of the Culture Performing Arts Company, singer Lucitta Odyce Adger, artist/poet Shaunda Holloway, and singers Pamela Campbell and son, Gabriel Abdul-Kareem. The event will be hosted by Chaz Carmon, Hanan Hameen, and Tennille Murphy of the Official Juneteenth Coalition of Greater New Haven.

Elder Byron Breland

Byron Breland is a native of Syracuse, NY. He is an understated sports legend. As a youth, his athletic prowess and passion for sports gained him immediate recognition. During his teen years, he led Nottingham High School of Syracuse’s football league in receiving, winning All State Honors 3 years in row.  With a natural affinity to work with youth, he was hired to be a homebound instructor by Eleanor Boyd, Director of Special Education for the City of New Haven. His desire to further his ambitions, led him to Southern Connecticut State University, (SCSU) in New Haven, CT to pursue a degree in Special Education. At that time, SCSU held the distinction as being the first university in the country to offer a Special Education Program. He soon switched to basketball and gained more celebrity throughout his college years.

Possessing outstanding leadership and organizational skills, Byron gained employment immediately after graduation (1978). He was hired as Youth Director at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) by one of his many mentors, the multi- faceted, Sam Burrell.  It was during this time that Breland developed an interest in Human Relations. His new position also brought him into the political arena where he met prominent politicians, movers and shakers, including the first black Mayor John Daniels, State Treasurer Henry Parker, CT State Representative Bill Dyson, Jim Barber, Bill Jones, Bill Harper, Walter Brooks, Chuck Allen, Wendall Harp, then Alderwoman Toni Harp, who later became the second black Mayor and first black female to become Mayor of New Haven, CT, and the flamboyant “Mayor of Dixwell”, Mae’ola Riddick to name a few. He was influenced and mentored by the late Ben Hunter and grew close to other athletes like John Williamson, Julius Powell, Larry and Earl Kelly, and played side by side with his brother, Darryl, now a retired homicide detective.

Byron forged long lasting political, sports and personal relationships with each of them but his most cherished relationship was with his parents, both school teachers and legends in their own right. His dad, Emmanuel “Manny” Breland was a pioneer as the first black student to receive a basketball scholarship from Syracuse University in 1953. This accomplishment paved the way for legions of illustrious students to follow, the most celebrated being football great, Jim Brown, “Manny’s” college roommate and lifelong friend.  As an athlete, educator, science teacher, administrator, community activist and leader, Elder Breland coupled with his wife, Elizabeth’s  popularity, achievements and wisdom, set the path for Bryon’s rise. Byron established many youth programs, exposing children to numerous opportunities. He worked with Elm Haven, through the New Haven Housing Authority and Youth Diversion providing recreational activities for children in public housing. Byron was mentored by many including Dr. Lonnie Garris and his programs were supported by Superintendent Mayo, Al Lucas, businessman George Clark and former Hillhouse principal, Althea Norcott. With support from the Board of Education and Sam Burrell, Byron arranged local and East Coast bus trips, regularly attending professional sports events at Madison Square Garden, stadiums and universities. The Howard University vs Morgan State Homecoming games and the Nets games were among his favorite trips. He formed and coached winning YMCA male and female basketball teams for 6 years, coordinated and sponsored basketball clinics and championships, attracting hundreds of thousands of participants, as coaches, players, volunteers, workers, co-organizers, families, neighboring mayors, communities, celebrity athletes and enthusiasts throughout the years.

Most notably, he met with chief executives of the widely known National “Hoop-It-Up” basketball competition and partnered with them and Mayor Toni Harp to bring the competition to New Haven. He led the efforts for it to be held in various locations around the city, including Goffe Street Park and City Hall. The yearly 3 day-event consisted of 60 teams which culminated with one team as the winning champions. The prize for winning was a chance to play in the National “Hoop-It-Up” competition in Washington, D.C. This was a special win for Byron Breland because his middle son, “Tre” lll was on the winning team.  Byron’s work is a forerunner to New Haven’s Pop Warner football team and Walter “Pop” Smith baseball team.  Surviving a traumatic head injury in 1982 in a 7 car pile-up, which left him in a coma, Breland emerged through faith and prayer and continued to serve the New Haven community for the rest of his professional life. Through his careers and setbacks, his wife, Sabrina, a top athlete and 3-time basketball Hall of Famer, remained steadfast, advancing in her life as a star athlete, wife, mother, school educator, principal and his rock. They are both proud parents to three sons, all athletes. Byron ll is the Building Coordinator at Obama High School and Byron “Tre” Breland lll, has become a star athlete with the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) Highlanders and their youngest son, also named Byron, dances and attends Junior High school.   

Byron has opened the way for many and gives back. He has been the gateway for many a mayoral candidate, introducing them to influential people to ensure their success. He remembers those who helped ease his path and he in turn, does the same. He was  affectionately known for “driving Miss Daisy”, when escorting Ms. Riddick anywhere she needed to go and used lessons he learned to become the unofficial Transportation Captain for Mayor Harp. Retired now, he rides Elders, family members and those in need to appointments, breakfast meetings and events. As a part of Kingdom International Economic Development, (KIEDC), he helps to distribute 1700 boxes of food to the community twice weekly, procured through the office of Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, with the help of broadcasts by Juan Castillo and Paul Bass. His most important passenger is himself. He rides his bicycle on long distance trips with his wife and close friends at his side, enjoying the fruits of his labor while passing through the communities he loves and serves so much.

Byron Breland is the epitome of a role model. He was asked to be Director of the resurrected Dixwell Q House. He turned it down. He can be found dining with friends at local restaurants. Breland says of all of his accomplishments, “I had a wonderful life. I had fun.” His church home is Bethel A.M.E.

Chaz Carmon

Official Juneteenth Coalition of Greater New Haven

Born on June 13, 1977 in New Haven, Connecticut. Chaz Carmon grew to become a prominent youth advocate. He credits finding his purpose through working with youth as what saved his life form the streets. He believes in being his brothers and sisters keeper. In 2013, Carmon became President of Ice the Beef. A 501c3 Anti- Gun Violence Organization in the city of New Haven and Waterbury, where he remains today. He also has worked for the New Haven Board of Education for over twenty years. Carmon was also the former Elm City Freddy Fixer Parade President, Former Festival of Arts and Ideas Neighborhood Festival Coordinator. He has worked for the New Haven and Hamden YMCA’s, Dixwell Q House, Farnam House, L.E.A.P. and has a fifteen-page youth work resume. Chaz has created and run many youth programs and has saved hundreds of youth and young adults throughout his work. Carmon has also set on many Boards and Planning Committees throughout his years.

At the start of his reign in Ice The Beef, Carmon transitioned Ice The Beef from Bereavement and into Youth Services. He added the youth service component into the core of ITB’s mission which created pathways to non-violence by combining, anger management, conflict resolution strategies and positive decision making strategies in all its programming. The programs honed in on the Youth Arts and Music, Youth Politics and Debate, Youth Community Organizing and the village mentality that all youth and residents in our city are one family. In his nine years as Director he has led the organization to popularity with a noticeable success rate. There are over 400 news articles highlighting its importance. The organization continues to be an outlet that guides both Ice the Beef’s youth and its 30 Staff Members.

Chaz is also a director, producer, rapper, writer and professional actor, portraying a range of characters in at least 90 productions ranging from commercials, television shows, films and plays. For over twenty years, Chaz has worked background on 45 nationally broadcast movies and 46 national televisions shows, including " Iron Fist," "Daredevil", "Luke Cage" and "Madam Secretary, the Following, Blue Bloods, the Americans, Broad City, Love and Hip Hop to name a few". As a rapper Chaz has opened for over 35 music stars, like J Cole and Miguel, Slick Rick, Joe Buttons, Sheek Luch, Furious Five, Lil Kim and Foxy Brown. He portrayed Black Panther Bobby Seale, in a short filmed on location at the actual court house of the trial in New Haven, CT. He has been in 10 plays, and 3 commercials. With that, his true passion is healing his community and teaching youth that their voices and decisions truly matter.

Recently, he established a new ITB chapter in the city of Waterbury. Since the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic, Ice the Beef created and hung signs all across CT. Slogans saying "Covid 19". "Keep teens inside", "No fights, no guns", and "We are in this together" can be found in New Haven, Bridgeport, Hartford, Waterbury, New Britain, Meriden, Middletown, Hamden and West Haven. He has created multiple marches, rallies and vigils pertaining to shootings in CT inner cities. Carmon has received over ten awards for his citizenship, reliability, dedication, mentorship, love of community work, spirit and passion. Chaz is a tireless warrior for youth and families. He selflessly partners with other organizations to broaden his reach, provide services and meet his goals to curb and end gun violence in CT inner cities. With Chaz Carmon at the helm of ITB and a continued focus on teaching teens their worth, the future is in good hands.

Justin Elicker

Mayor of New Haven

Justin grew up in Connecticut. He attended public school, graduated with a BA from Middlebury College in Vermont, and earned both a Master’s in Business Administration from the Yale School of Management and a Masters in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry. Justin speaks Spanish and Chinese. He has been an elementary and high school teacher (for at-risk youth) and served for three years as an adjunct professor of education policy at Southern Connecticut State University.

Justin has a wealth of experience in government. He served for four years on the New Haven Board of Alders where he was a champion for residents across the city who felt unheard, underserved, and unsupported by the City of New Haven. He advocated for renters who lived in sub-standard apartments under absentee landlords, and fought against predatory landlords.

With his constituents’ support and at their requests, he promoted fostering more positive, community-police interaction in an underserved neighborhood in order to help mitigate neighbors’ feelings of mistrust and suspicion of police. He successfully implemented neighborhood and economic development improvements in the Cedar Hill neighborhood to promote more business activity and improve quality of life.

He promoted protections for gender identity. On the Board of Alders, Justin was also one of the strongest voices for long-term fiscal responsibility, government transparency, and smart governance. He had both one of the best attendance records on the Board, and the best response rates for constituent service requests. In 2013, Justin ran for Mayor in one of the most exciting and close elections in decades. Justin came in second with 45.3% of the vote.

Justin’s government experience started long before his involvement at the Board of Alders. Justin worked for five years as a Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. State Department. He was posted to Washington, D.C., Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Justin had a substantive focus on U.S. economic and environmental policy.

While working for the U.S. government abroad was rewarding and challenging, Justin decided to leave the State Department to come to New Haven because he wanted to live near his family, put down roots, and get involved in a local community that he believed in. Justin lives in East Rock with his wife, Natalie, and daughters Molly and April.

Justin is now the 51st Mayor of New Haven, and will work hard so that every resident has the opportunity to thrive, no matter where they live.

Ms. Hanan Hameen

Official Juneteenth Coalition of Greater New Haven

Ms. Hanan Hameen, Doctoral Candidate is the Founder of the Artsucation™ Academy Network, Ms. Hanan’s Dance and Beyond, New Haven Hip-Hop Conference, and 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, 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, 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 Arts Council of Greater New Haven 2018 Phenomenal Woman and Artist Commission Awardee. Her doctoral research interests are on 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 dance companies.

Shaunda Holloway

Shaunda Sekai Holloway is a painter, printmaker, curator, and writer working in New Haven and Hamden. Recently, she curated the “Remember My Struggle: Kae Me Br3” exhibition at Southern Connecticut State University, as a part of SCSU’s “1619: A Week of Commemoration” series.

Holloway’s writing has been published in ESSENCE magazine, CT Post, the Inner City News, New Haven Review, Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander and other publications. Her paintings and prints have been exhibited throughout the East Coast, and across the globe, including New Delhi, India.

Most recently, Holloway was named a 2020 New Haven Arts Award recipient.

Tennille Murphy

Official Juneteenth Coalition of Greater New Haven

Tennille Murphy was born in the city of New Haven and received her education in Hamden Public Schools. She grew up in the town of Hamden and resided there until her early 20’s. She jokingly declares that “my little legs would cross the city line into Newhallville, New Haven most of my adolescent and teen years”. At the age of 19 years, she found her calling at the Dixwell Community House as a Children's Program Aide in an after- school program. Beloved Director Ted Hogan changed her life because he took a chance on her. She knew then that she would mentor and educate disadvantaged youth. Notwithstanding, Tennille fostered lasting relationships with residents and the families of the children she served. She formed loving and esteemed relationships with prominent community members and leaders. Needless to say, her heart is in Newhallville. She has mentored and educated hundreds of New Haven youth. For 20 years, she has had the opportunity to watch a multitude of children flourish into respected adults. Unfortunately, she witnessed a few lose their lives to gun violence, but the pain keeps the flame of dedication lit within her to make a change.

With a passion for education, literacy, and community activism since high school, Ms. Murphy now holds 3 degrees in the area of education. In 2012, Tennille became the Founder and Health Educator of Kidz Kook Association, Inc., a non- profit organization that teaches youth and low-income families how to eat and how to prepare healthy, delicious, and affordable meals. Tennille has an amazing teaching style that incorporates STEM, Art, and Literacy into teaching cooking, gardening, and nutrition to her participants. For example, she can take a child’s favorite book such as Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and teach children food art by making a butterfly with fresh fruit.

Nearly 8 years ago Tennille begin teaching cooking classes in her home. Her mission has outgrown her kitchen and now Tenille Murphy can be seen at numerous community events or school programs throughout the city, armed with fun-themed nutritious recipes, shopping carts, and cartons full of ingredients, some donated by local businesses, family, and friends, but most paid for out of her pocket. Children and families line up to take their turn preparing assorted healthy meals and snacks to eat on location or make at home. The twist to her teaching is that Kidz Kook and its members take what they have learned and give back to the community. Children in her program have been seen preparing 300 sandwiches and meals to feed the elderly or homeless.

She also supports and is a member of many local organizations including the Juneteenth Coalition of Greater New Haven and the Black Holocaust Museum Committee. She seldom hesitates to lend a helping hand and is well-known for being a dedicated, committed, sincere, compassionate, and hard worker.

With a heavy load of two full-time jobs , and a science major college student to raise, Tennille successfully graduated this past May, with a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She is a devoted mother of 1 child, her daughter, Iyana who is pursuing her dream to be a medical doctor.

Lucitta Odyce Adger

Lucitta Odyce Adger has been a lifetime resident of New Haven, Connecticut since 1962. She has aspired to perform for audiences in most aspects in the performing arts. Lucitta can recall participating in school plays, special theatrical classes at Wesleyan University and Albertus Magnus College, theater groups such Distant Voices, opera classes at Audubon Arts Neighborhood Music School, and for laughs, karaoke. Lucitta currently resides in New Haven, Connecticut.

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.

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.

Babalawo Onigbonna Enroue Halfkenny

Babalawo Onigbonna Enroue Halfkenny has been an Ifa priest within the traditional Orisa religion of the Yoruba People for over 20 years. He is a clinical social worker, an artist and an activist. He is a multiracial, black, cis-gendered, heterosexual man, a father of two, has been married for more than 21 years and has been sober for over 28 years. Weaving together spiritual health, mental health and social justice practices guide his life and his work through his business, Healing and Liberation Counseling.

Gabriel Abdul-Karim

I, too, was born and raised in New Haven, CT. I began to excel in the performing arts in the 6th grade at Betsy Ross Arts Magnet school. My talent, interest, and skills in the performing arts and musical creations flourished while attending CooperativeArts and Humanities High School. I’ve created a platform for myself in the spectrum of musical production and photography. I have very early memories of watching my mom singing, sitting through long rehearsals, and performances. I am a singer at heart! In 2020, I started writing music and here we are today- putting my emotions and experiences to music on a digital platform.

Pamela Brooks-Campbell

I was born and raised in New Haven, CT. Graduated from St. Martin de Porres and James Hillhouse HS. My earliest memories of singing in front of people was at St. Luke's Church with my best friend in the junior choir. I have always loved to sing and dance, which I did in my youth here. After graduating from Boston University with a Computer Science degree, I dabbled in acting. Snagged a couple of extra spots on the “Spenser for Hire,'' set in the ‘80’s. I returned to CT after my sister’s death in 1989. Re-established roots, started a family, and eventually returned to singing and dancing(liturgical) in church. Today, my focus is singing contemporary gospel and praise songs but I still love traditional hymns.

Video produced by Samira Abdul-Karim, F.A.T.E. Productions

4EVA (Jamila James)

4EVA- Jamila James- started rapping at the early age of 9. She was blessed to be a Youth member at City Kids Repertory Theater and Music Coalition, a Michael Bolton Foundation in Branford, CT where she evolved in musicals, dance, stage development, performance, acting and songwriting. She was featured on BET's 106th & Park's Freestyle Fridays. She is also the winner of the Jay Z/50 Cent "Rock the Mic New England Freestyle" competition, 1st Christian Female Battle Rapper on Overflow Rap League and is now a continuing mouthpiece for God in the music business.

4EVA says, "my goal is to use my supernatural anointing to bring awareness and victory to every Believer and soon to be Believer on Earth as it is in Heaven. My song has its wings and is taking off as a song of victory carrying us beyond this pandemic and into full victory in GOD!" Her new single, "I'm A Believer" rose up the charts within 1 week in February 2021 and made it toTOP 50 as #47 in the US Audience Rank category. 4EVA is a New Haven, CT artist.