Thursday, June 2, 2011

History was made this week when the City of Long Beach named a park in honor of the Late San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk, the First openly Gay elected official to serve.  Long Beach First District Councilman Robert Garcia championed the cause. 

I have some mixed feelings about naming the park after Harvey.  Why Mista Jaycee? Well, Harvey Milk didn't have any real connection to Long Beach.  Mr. Garcia explained that several parks are named after folks who have no connection to Long Beach, Dr. King, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez and he's right.

I feel it's to a city's detriment though to ignore it's own History and it's citizens.  When I walk down 3rd street in Long Beach, I remember Richard Kyle Books, The Barber College, The Blue Cafe, Jack's Liquor and the Original Shades of Afrika.  When I walk Pine Ave, I remember the Ben and Jerrys, the Long Beach Mall, Education 2000, The Tape and Record Room, Jillians, Mums and The AMC Theatre.  Most of these businesses are gone but what about the people who served the city? The characters?

The next park or public square should be named in honor of someone local. There are plenty of folks who have yet to be honored or worse honored and thier stories are not told with the reverence they deserve. Who is Ernest Mcbride? (Photographer, Activist and LB NAACP President)  Who is Theodora Brewitt?  (Long Beach Librarian who stood up against censorship in the 1950's red scare)

Why do they matter to Long Beach?  Who is Akinsawa Kambon (Former Black Panther, Runs Pan Afrikan Art School)  and why does he matter to Long Beach? Who is Bob Jones? I knew Bob Jones as a nice old gentleman who visited the Shades of Afrika. He was a photographer and owned a studio over on Broadway. He was in his eighties but faithfully went to the gym for his workout daily.  After he passed away I found out that during the 50's Bob was one of Long Beach's leading Gay Activists. 

He led protests, he campaigned against harrassment based on Sexual orientation, he had been persecuted.  The Man I'd knew was not a grizzled, bitter social war vet, he was a kind, personable fellow.  He did alot for Long Beach and lived in the section where the Harvey Milk Park will be built.  He would smile but he deserved alot more and so do alot of other residents of all stripes who have graced the city. He was local, LGBT and lived and worked in the area of the park.  He should have been considered.

We should remember that when thinking about Long Beach or the City where you live.

BE Prayerful! BE Mindful! BE Careful!

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