Sojourner Kincaid Rolle holding up her book "Free At Last: A Juneteenth Poem" (courtesy)

By the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts & Culture

The Santa Barbara County Office of Arts & Culture is pleased to announce that Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Emerita Sojourner Kincaid Rolle has received national recognition for her illustrated children’s book “Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem.”

In commemoration of Black History Month, the School Library Journal (SLJ) has published a list of “15 Nonfiction and Fiction Titles for Young Readers About Slavery in the United States,” which highlights the significance of Rolle’s book. Additional authors on the list include Pulitzer Prize winner Nikole Hannah-Jones, Newbury Award winner Renée Watson and Grammy Award winner Rhiannon Giddens.

The SLJ noted that their recommended titles “cover some of the experiences lived by the enslaved in this county, from 1619 (the first slave ship) to 1865 (Juneteenth),” and can offer a “nuanced presentation of major historical events of Black history.” They praise Rolle’s writing for its “lyrical feel that evokes a range of emotions, from sadness for the realities of the many hardships still faced right after emancipation, to the hope and resilience of newfound freedom.”

“Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem” was illustrated by Alex Bostic, the renowned artist who created the 2022 Edmonia Lewis Commemorative Forever stamp for the USPS Black Heritage Series. The book has received national acclaim from Kirkus Reviews, PBS, Publisher’s Weekly, and Booklist, where it received a starred review and Editor’s Choice designation. It is available at Barnes and Noble and through Rolle’s website,

Sojourner Kincaid Rolle served as Santa Barbara Poet Laureate from 2015-17, and has been succeeded by Enid Osborn, Laure-Anne Bosselaar and Emma Trelles. The search for the City’s next Poet Laureate is currently underway.

About the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts & Culture

The Santa Barbara County Office of Arts & Culture is a Division of the County’s Community Services Department, serving as the local governmental umbrella for arts and culture projects and programs within the County. The Office represents a longstanding partnership between the County of Santa Barbara and the City of Santa Barbara. For more than 30 years, both governments have shared resources and staff to maximize support for Santa Barbara arts and culture institutions, programs, initiatives and projects. For information, visit


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