The Black Story Project-Santa Cruz is a partnership between the SCC Black Health Matters Initiative and Speak For Change Podcast where we highlight Black stories and Black voices to help bring connection and awareness to the diversity of black folks in Santa Cruz County. 

In The Black Story Project Santa Cruz we explore the Black experience in Santa Cruz county, a majority and historically white county. Our host Thomas Sage Pedersen explores these experiences by having discussions with Black folks who have been raised here, or have lived here for the majority of their lives. We do this to help bring together Black folks in this community to assure them that they are not alone here, and to bring awareness to the diversity and humanity behind the Black experience in Santa Cruz County. 

Listen to the episodes here

About the interviewees

Jasmine Jones

Jasmine Jones was born and raised in the Santa Cruz mountains. Growing up biracial in the Santa Cruz mountains was a unique experience that has shaped who  and how she views the world today. She graduated from San Jose State with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Fitness has always been part of her life. It is integral for both physical and mental health.

Brie Buxton

Brie is a musical theatre performer turned baby-wearing, breastfeeding, birth doula & parenting advocate. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband and 3 children, and commits herself to reimagining The Parenting Village & serving our future generations through encouraging intuitive prenatal, birth, postpartum & parenting support. 

Cierra Jurden

is a 27 from Santa Cruz, currently living in New York. She is a professional Plant Consultant & designer working with clients all over the country.

Veronica Christie

Veronica is a 28-year-old musician, artist, and mental health and addiction recovery advocate raised in San Lorenzo Valley in Santa Cruz County. I am so honored to introduce Veronica Christie also known as Varro Vivids.


Bruce Gardner

Bruce has lived in Santa Cruz for 50 plus years.  He is an Engineer, an amazing artist and a passionate father. In this interview Thomas and Bruce explore the racial changes and some of the deeper history of Santa Cruz in the eyes of someone who has seen the culture of the county change over the past 50 years.

Faith Brown

Faith Brown and 18 year old girl who previously attended Harbor High School in Santa Cruz CA and lives in felton ca. She switched schools after experiencing racism at SLV elementary, middle school, and high school. Faith had put together the highway 9 protest and has been an advocate for mental health,  anti-racism work and any injustices she sees.


Greg Speed

Born and raised in North Carolina, Greg Speed is a poet, former U.S. Army soldier, and a current staff member at UC Santa Cruz. In his spare time Greg enjoys playing basketball, is an aspiring photographer, and loves anything poetry related. Whether it is writing, performing, or just enjoying other poets. Greg has been writing for over 7 years and is thrilled to share a small piece of himself with you today. 

During these Interviews I find myself seeing correlations and having reflections on the stories and the discussions that happen during The Black Story Project. So in Reflections on the Black Story Project with Thomas Sage Pedersen I dive deeper in the thoughts and ideas around some of the topics that come up in these discussions, exploring some of the nuances that inevitably arise during conversations centered around race and the Black experience. By exploring these issues and topics we can start to really understand the humanity behind the Black experience here in Santa Cruz, and use those findings to build a foundation of health and wellness in our Black community. 

Thank you so much for staying curious and exploring these issues with me.

Thomas Sage Pedersen

November Reflection

November Reflection by Thomas Sage Pederson These are the views of Thomas Sage Pedersen, and are not the reflections of TWDCC and The Black health

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October Reflection

October Reflection by Thomas Sage Pederson These are the views of Thomas Sage Pedersen, and are not the reflections of TWDCC and The Black health

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September Reflection

September Reflection by Thomas Sage Pederson There are a lot of themes that come up in The Black Story Project  around the black experience here

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