November 23, 2021 10:48 AM
by Delana Gbenekama
The Santa Monica City Council in August 2021 honored its commitment to provide $100,000 in seed funding to the Santa Monica Black Lives Association (SMBLA), a nonprofit organization formed by Black community leaders to address the wellbeing and socioeconomic needs of Santa Monica’s Black community.
The SMBLA is dedicated to providing services to help the Black community cope with the effects of systemic racism. Services include but are not limited to individual, family and marital counseling programs, healthy living and peer support programs, and educational programs for children, youth and young adults.
The SMBLA is led by a nine-member board of directors, listed below, and interim executive director Kera Blades-Snell:
Debra J. Myers, MD
Juanita V. Palacios-Sims
Barry A. Snell
The journey to SMBLA’s founding began in June 2020 in the aftermath of worldwide civic demonstrations demanding the dismantling of systemic racism following the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and too many other Black people. After urging the Santa Monica City Council to take action to address systemic racism, a group of Black leaders quickly formed the Black Agenda Steering Committee to develop the Black Agenda, a comprehensive blueprint for change with the priorities of economic development, mental health and wellbeing, police reform, education, COVID-19 recovery, the arts, housing, and civic and political participation.
The Black Agenda Steering Committee recognized the need to form a separate entity, the Santa Monica Black Lives Association, to focus on offering vital services to the community while the Black Agenda Steering Committee remains dedicated to advocacy.
We look forward to all the great work the SMBLA will do in Santa Monica. To donate to the SMBLA, and learn more about its services and board of directors, visit smbla.org.
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