On February 20 the Long Beach City Council voted to initiate the process of finding a home for a future African American Cultural Center in Long Beach.

Led by Councilmember Al Austin with Vice Mayor Rex Richardson and Councilmember Dee Andrews, the City Manager’s office was directed to start the search for potential locations for the center and is actively compiling that list.

Now Austin, who has stated that he wants the process to be community driven, and the Arts Council for Long Beach, will host an Open Conversations event on that topic on Wednesday, May 30 from 6:00PM to 8:00PM in the courtyard at the Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site, the Arts Council announced this week.

“This conversation is long overdue,” Councilmember Al Austin said in a statement. “I am proud to be in a position to initiate the process. I am excited about the possibilities before us to create a hub for African American arts and culture in Long Beach.”

First-Ever African American Cultural Center May Be Coming to Long Beach

“The idea of creating a venue for educating, recognizing and celebrating Black culture in Long Beach has been in existence for decades, and with the dedication of Councilman Austin and the City, our Open Conversations brings us one step closer to sculpting a masterpiece,” Arts Council Board President Tasha Hunter said in a statement. “This discourse is not only exciting, it is vital.”

Alongside Hunter, Dr. Michael Datcher will co-moderate the conversation in an effort to gather the suggestions, concerns and visions shared by attendees on how the center can best serve its visitors and the city as a whole.

Speakers will include David and Sharon McLucas of the annual Black History Month exhibit at the Expo Arts Center, Forgotten Images: Yesterday Today & Tomorrow, Max Viltz of the African Art Gallery, Village Treasures, Olufemi (Theo) and Ryan and Nicole Ballard of the African American Historical Society, according to the announcement.

The Search for a Home for African American Culture Begins in Long Beach

“As an Arts Council, we are here to serve residents, and dialogues like these are important to foster creativity in our communities. We invite everyone to come share their vision,” Executive Director for the Arts Council Griselda Suarez stated.

For more information visit the Arts Council’s website here

Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site is located at 4600 Virginia Road.

Asia Morris is a Long Beach native covering arts and culture for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her @hugelandmass on Twitter and Instagram and at [email protected].