Ready to know more about San Diego?


SD Melanin: Curating Black Joy

Since 2017, the group been building a community for Black professionals through events, black-tie galas, concerts, rooftop soirees, and healing circles
Photo courtesy of SD Melanin

Sometimes, an idea strikes and inspires someone to create all they wish to see. Like for Ivy League grad and former US Diplomat Loren Cobbs, founder of SD Melanin. The community provides a forum for Black professionals to congregate in San Diego, including an upcoming Juneteenth Celebration on June 25.

Cobbs migrated north to SD after completing an assignment in Tijuana, where she found she had an increasing thirst for spaces where she could enjoy camaraderie with other Black professionals. “I didn’t have a social network when I first moved here,” Cobbs says. “I’d go out by myself trying to acclimate with San Diego and west coast culture. I was wondering how I could meet people without door-to-door advocacy,” she says.

SD Melanin, Juneteenth couple

Photo courtesy of SD Melanin

Cobbs founded SD Melanin in 2017 and hosted her first event on MeetUp. “People would ask why I’m doing this, while others would say nobody would show up to the event. I’m the youngest of five siblings, and I have always been a bit stubborn, so I decided to move forward and see what happens,” she says.

The venue was a restaurant bar several blocks off the main drag in Hillcrest. More than 75 professionals showed up, a number that superseded what Cobbs expected. Since the inaugural Hillcrest gathering, SD Melanin has curated 200-plus events hosting more than 10,000 people at black-tie galas, concerts, rooftop soirees, and healing circles.

SD Melanin, Juneteenth pics

Photo courtesy of SD Melanin

But Cobbs isn’t alone in these endeavors. She is joined by a group of like-minded women (Jeaniqua Francis, Kiana Henderson, Amari Dixon, and Aniesa Thomas) who share a passion for outreach and community. “When I first began, I found it was women who would reach out to inquire about how they could be of assistance,” Cobbs says. “We bonded over community building and service.”

SD Melanin has hosted a Juneteenth celebration almost every year since the company’s inception, but part of striving for excellence is continuously elevating the standard. This year’s event will be hosted on Sunday, June 25, from 2 p.m. – 8 p.m. at The Holding Company (THC) in Ocean Beach. The full-day affair will include two workshops hosted by Passion Planner, art by Illustrated Melanin (curated by Black Liberated Artist Collective), and items for sale by local Black-owned businesses. The first floor at The Holding Company will play Afrobeats, Soca, Reggae, and Amapiano, while the second floor and rooftop will bump Hip Hop and R&B.

SD Melanin, Juneteenth, Black joy

Photo courtesy of SD Melanin

“The DJs will guide us through a musical journey,” Cobbs says. “We will take a musical journey throughout the diaspora and to places where Black folks have found liberation. It is fulfilling to feel like we are creating a solution and producing a space people feel invited in. Spaces they may not have been welcomed in before.”

But Juneteenth—which celebrates our country’s second independence day on June 19 and became a federal holiday in 2021—isn’t all cocktails and vibey music. The holiday carries a rich historical legacy. Juneteenth originated in Galveston, Texas, marking the end of slavery in the westernmost Confederate state on June 19, 1865.

June 19 isn’t just a date on the calendar, it’s an emblem of freedom. The name originates from combining June and nineteenth, and early celebrations were held where Black people felt both physical and psychological freedom, such as in churches. The food-centered gatherings had a healthy heartbeat and immense support amongst African Americans in the rural south, but did not become popularized across the United States until the Great Migration, one of the largest movements of people in this country’s history.

SD Melanin, Juneteenth dj

Photo courtesy of SD Melanin

Moving forward, Cobbs is confident SD Melanin will continue to be synonymous with providing space and opportunity for those committed to thriving outside the bounds of what they thought possible.“I want to make it abundantly clear why we are focused on Black joy, and that’s because the majority of stories told about the Black community are rooted in trauma. There aren’t enough conversations surrounding liberation and community,” says Cobb. “It is fulfilling to feel like we are creating a solution, and rewarding to see a community shift. It’s nice to welcome people into spaces they hadn’t previously felt welcomed in.”

By Jared Cross

Jared Cross is a writer who grew up near the US-Mexico border in San Diego. He credits this experience with refining his appetite for food and culture.

Share this post

Contact Us

1230 Columbia Street, Suite 800,

San Diego, CA