Sojourner Kincaid Rolle
Poet Sojourner Kincaid Rolle reads from her new children’s book, Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem, at Santa Barbara’s Juneteenth Caring For The People Block Party in 2022. (Marian Shapiro photo)

Former Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Sojourner Kincaid Rolle recently entered hospice at Serenity House, and friends have set up a GoFundMe asking for the community’s help to support her and her husband, Rod Rolle.

Rolle is a 40-year resident of Santa Barbara who has been active in the arts community and as a cultural activist. She has worked for UC Santa Barbara, the County of Santa Barbara, and several community-centered organizations.

She served as Santa Barbara’s Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017, and was named the 2021 Congressional Woman of the Year by Congressman Salud Carbajal.

“Sojourner and her husband, Rod Rolle, longtime community artist and activist, have always believed in the power of community and devoted their lives to investing in programs and arts for their community,” Jordan Killebrew wrote for the GoFundMe fundraiser.

“At this stage in Sojourner’s life, we are asking for their community to come together and support her and her husband as they navigate several medical bills and end-of-life planning.” 

In the fundraiser’s description, Killebrew said that Rolle has had a long battle with cancer “wrought with many ups and downs.”

Rolle published a children’s book, “Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem” in 2022, which has received national recognition from the School Library Journal, PBS, Publisher’s Weekly, and more.

She recently received the California Arts Council Legacy Fellowship last month, one of only four Legacy Fellowships awarded to the region.

“Sojourner is the glue that connects community members, young and old,” Killebrew said. “She is a truthteller who exhumes our past stories and brings them to life as a reminder of where we have been and where we can go.”

He said Rolle has been very involved as a “guiding elder” for Juneteenth Santa Barbara and Healing Justice Santa Barbara, among many other local organizations.

“It is community members like Sojourner that make Santa Barbara County special and her energy has touched thousands of lives for the positive,” Killebrew said. “We hope you are able to give what you can to someone who gave our community so much.”

The GoFundMe adds that this is the first of many more opportunities to contribute and celebrate Rolle.

As of Wednesday, over $8,000 had been donated to the GoFundMe fundraiser for Rolle. More information and updates are available on the GoFundMe page here.