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The Speakeasy Storytellers plan a special Juneteenth event with
The Last Supper Party

By Andrew “Boots” Hardy
SFIAF Editor

Veteran storyteller Abdul Kenyatta’s smooth and engaging voice belies his ability to pack a wallop with words, weaving them into a beautiful and profound tapestry of rhyme and cadence. It’s this rare talent that the Moth-winning poet and founder of the Speakeasy Storytellers will be lending to a special Juneteenth collaboration with the San Francisco International Arts Festival’s The Last Supper Party spoken-word series.

More than two decades ago, Kenyatta built upon a lifetime of story-telling experience when he founded the Storytellers, a multi-generational and multi-cultural forum for supportive storytelling that has since spread throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

“Storytelling is often seen as a form of entertainment,” Kenyatta reflected during a recent interview. “But it is much more than that. It is a fundamental part of being human. Throughout history, storytelling has played a crucial role in our societies. Helping us to share information, create emotional connections, and helping us understand one another.”

YouTubers who look him up can see and hear for themselves the depth of his passion and dedication to an artform he has been practicing for more than fifty years. His poetry and spoken-word performances convey a love for tales intertwined with truth and history, and they flow from his lips with a rare and inarguable eloquence.

SFIAF’s first presentation of the Speakeasy Storytellers came in 2019 at Fort Mason, and they became a featured part of The Last Supper Party in January 2023. LSP strives to put forward writers and artists who stand against injustice, corruption, and unchecked power—making the two groups a match made in literary heaven.

After their first Juneteenth collaboration last year, the Storytellers and LSP decided to give spoken-word lovers a second installment. 

Now a national holiday, Juneteenth commemorates the official ending of slavery in America more than 18 months after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln. Although the Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863, it took the US Army’s Major General Gordon Granger, along with a company of American cavalry, crossing half the continent to force Texas slaveholders to relinquish all claim to the horrific practice of slavery, freeing those who had labored and survived under its ugly yoke.

“They were free,” Kenyatta said, “but nobody bothered to tell them.”

This year’s show is being partially paid for with funds from a Lift Every Voice grant Kenyatta received from the San Francisco Arts Commission.

The theme of this year’s collaboration is powerful in its simplicity: Everyone Has a Story to Tell. It’s a testament to the sometimes-forgotten heritage that dwells in the veins of every human being alive, a recognition that, no matter where a person comes from, they come from somewhere. And that history lives within us, a compelling narrative waiting to be told, whether a person knows it or not; every single person has a story within them.

Kenyatta reached out to various performers and came up with an inspiring lineup for the Juneteenth celebration, including:

African drummers led by Claude Carpenter, bringing the rhythmic heartbeat of the Dark Continent alive;

The incredible cellist Mia Pixley, PhD, whose sweet and somber strings have been featured on Grammy Award-winning albums and stages;

San Francisco-based poet and writer Kevin Dublin, who has set for himself the task of keeping the City’s literary culture alive;

Historian Allan Jordan, who will present the origin story of Juneteenth in the Bay Area;

Oaklander (by way of Detroit) Thomas Laymon, bringing his own true story to the stage as he strives to find the extra in the ordinary;

And Moth-winning poet Abdul Kenyatta himself, sharing poetry from his recently released book, African Lovesongs.

Event Details
WHAT: A Special Juneteenth Installment of The Last Supper Partyin collaboration with the Speakeasy Storytellers

WHEN: Wednesday, June 19 at 7:00 pm (90 minutes with intermission)

WHERE: Medicine for Nightmares Bookstore & Gallery, 3026 24th Street, San Francisco

TICKETS: Free (donations accepted)

INFO: For more information and to RSVP, visit:

San Francisco International Arts Festival
Phone Number: 415-399-9554 | Email: [email protected]
1222 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94109



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