Thu, Sep

13th Annual Day Of The Ancestors: Festival Of Masks Honors Leimert Park Legends

13th Annual Day Of The Ancestors: Festival Of Masks

Honors Leimert Park Legends 

Billie Higgins, Laura Mae Gross, Richard “5th Street Dick” Fulton, Ras G and Amber Tell


This year’s theme recognizes their work to plant the seeds of vibrant Leimert Park Village


(LOS ANGELES, CA) – On Sunday, June 25 2023 at 12 pm, a libation ritual followed by a stunning procession will take place in Leimert Park Village to honor five legends whose spirit continues to infuse the area with dynamic creative energy and to influence the many whose lives they touched.  “Seeds of the Village,” the theme of the 13th Annual Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks, pays homage to these individuals with a day of creative expression that engages the entire community in a celebration that honors all they left behind.  Honorees:

Bille Higgins, most recorded jazz drummer in history and founder of The World Stage in Leimert Park

Laura Mae Gross, “Mama Laura” who founded the famous blues club, Babe’s and Ricky’s Inn

Ras G, Innovative and internationally renowned music producer and DJ.

Richard Fulton, moved from homelessness to found the legendary 5th Street Dick’s Coffeehouse 

Amber Tell, a young dancer and drummer dedicated to bringing forth the spirit of the ancestors

Organized by LA Commons as part of the Leimert Park Artwalk, Day of the Ancestors starts with a traditional libation ceremony that consecrates a procession two months in the making.  Incorporating giant masks and puppets, beautiful costumes, master drummers, dancers and other performers, this communal march around Leimert Park Village calls forth the spirit of the honored ancestors. The performances that follow feature a stellar lineup of artists including Dwight Trible, Kamau Daaood, S.H.I.N.E. Muwasi, Jimetta Rose and Voices of Creation, Mama Laura’s Mighty Balls of Fire and Torrence Brannon-Reese & His Everything with Soul Band.

This year marks the thirteenth Annual Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks at the Leimert Park Artwalk. This highly anticipated event is an annual celebration of ancestors and an invocation for community wellness. Founded in 2010 by artists Najite Agindotan and Ben Caldwell in collaboration with LA Commons, the Festival of Masks is a multicultural, multigenerational, workshop series and festival grounded in the vast identities of Africa and the African diaspora. The 2023 theme, Seeds of the Village, centers on Leimert Park Ancestors who planted the seeds of art, culture and wellness and features artists and cultural workers who carry their vision forward. Six weeks of workshops free to the community in West African and Diaspora Dance and Drum, and Mask Making will culminate in a festival that features a procession, performances, and a dance party. 

Seeds of the Village Saturdays will occur every week through June 24, enabling participants to connect with their Ancestors through body, mind, spirit and community: 

African Dance with Daunté Fyall 11am-12pm (PDT)

Daunté Fyall leads a West African Dance class imparting healing powers and cultural wisdom.


Ancestor Mask Making with Maria Elena Cruz and Ronieka Pinkney

12:00-2:00pm (PDT)

Participants take time to share what their ancestors have taught them and make masks that reflect the type of seeds they wish to plant in their village. 


African Drumming with Rene Fisher Mims 2:30-3:30pm (PDT)

Leimert Park’s Cultural Treasure Mama Nene of SHINE Muwasi leads an African drumming workshop at the famed World Stage.

On June 25 at 12:00pm (PDT), Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks takes place starting with libations followed at 1 pm by the procession and performances. It is a day to learn about, honor and celebrate the cultures of the African diaspora through artmaking, a remarkable procession and stories told through music, dance and masks. It is a beautiful community gathering of hundreds of artists and community members from Leimert Park and beyond to celebrate connections to ancestors who continue to lead and inspire us. 


LA Commons, a project of Community Partners, works in neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles facilitating issue-driven public art projects that inspire creativity in everyone. The resulting highly visible public art that reflects dynamic neighborhood stories. LA Commons builds community by validating the importance of local narratives, enhancing the sense of belonging felt by a broad range of stakeholders, and encouraging strong ties between the people of Los Angeles and the places they call home.



Leimert Park Village has a long history of being the center of African American arts and culture. Held on the last Sunday of each month, Leimert Park Artwalk invites the public to share a day of art exhibitions, music, fashion, food, drumming, spoken word, and local shopping. Throughout the day, cultural spaces, artist studios, and storefronts in the village also have offerings ranging from free computer seminars and specialty vendors to film screenings, youth theater performances, and live bands. 


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