Cultural Connections Event Series

The Diversity & Inclusion Commission is pleased to introduce Cultural Connections – an event series that celebrates our differences and provides the opportunity to better understand and appreciate the many cultures within our community.

People learn best through storytelling and who better to hear from than the voices of Elk Grove? This series will consist of short, TED-style talks from people who live, work, and raise families in Elk Grove. Storytellers will share their unique stories, insights, and perspectives on life and their cultural identity and influences.

Join us for the next event or contact us at [email protected] if you’d like to be considered for storytelling at a future event.

Join us for...

Juneteenth Header

Thursday, June 16
6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The Center at District56
Outdoor Patio
Free Admission

For more than 150 years, African American communities across the country have celebrated Juneteenth. Learn more about this new federal holiday, the history behind it, and personal stories from Elk Grove residents who are positively influencing and contributing to the quality of life in Elk Grove and the region.

Event Storytellers

Daniel Hahn

Daniel Hahn

A native adopted son of Sacramento, Daniel Hahn spent 34-years in law enforcement rising to the level of police chief in two cities - Roseville and Sacramento. As the first African American police chief in both cities, Daniel worked to address systemic issues in law enforcement and our community at large. Daniel lives in the Elk Grove area with his wife, an Elk Grove Elementary School teacher, and two daughters that are in high school in the Elk Grove Unified School District.


Mellonie Richardson

Mellonie Richardson is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend deeply committed to being of service to others, personally in intimate and larger communities, and professionally, as a Director of Human Resources in Higher Education and as owner of a private consulting firm, serving non-profit organizations.


Sam Starks

For the past 24 years, Sam Starks has worked for SMUD providing grants and assisting social service and nonprofit organizations. He also organizes and plans Northern California’s largest Martin Luther King Jr event which draws 30,000 people to the Sacramento region to honor Dr. King’s legacy and raise awareness and money for organizations working to make Dr. King’s dream a reality. In his spare time, Sam is a genealogist who helps the descendants of enslaved Africans to know more about their ancestors and their culture. Sam Starks, his wife Dr. Charlane Starks and daughter Mariah are long-time residents and friends of Elk Grove.

Special Performances by:


Fenix Drum and Dance

This Sacramento area dance company specializes in dance and drumming from West Africa, the Congo and the Caribbean. Their high energy multi-generational, multi-ethnic group highlights the richness and complexity of dance and music of the African Diaspora.


Leslie Sandefur

Leslie Sandefur’s soprano voice has been hailed by critics as “a radiant, deeply expressive instrument that is precisely focused and well- knit throughout.” A native of Elk Grove, Leslie has sung with numerous opera companies and festivals. She frequently performs recitals at Sacramento’s Crocker Art Museum and Westminster Music at Noon Concert Series promoting local arts education and the works of African American classical composers. With a heart for her community, Leslie also serves on the City’s Arts Commission.

About the Emcee:


The Rising

Elk Grove’s The Rising is a local community organization established in 2020 following continuous systemic disparities and discriminatory behavior inflicting the Black community. Following their conception, The Rising has conducted various voter registration initiatives and hosted several community events, including a 2020 Juneteenth celebration at Elk Grove Park. The Rising strives to use education and dialogue to create a safe and inclusive environment for all African descendants.

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