September 5, 2013 | 880 views
MLK Center reopens with a celebration
Event coincides with 50th anniversary of King’s iconic speech
After seven months without its community center, North Park residents were thrilled to celebrate the reopening of the MLK Center last Saturday.
“A lot of the community felt like they were at a loss without the center,” said James Hodge, chair of the center’s board of directors. “We’ve seen some tears of joy.”
Over 500 people came down to the MLK Center last Saturday for the all-day celebration. The center was forced to shut its doors at the end of January, to repair damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. After the storm, the center was a lifeline for the community in its time of need. They served food and collected and distributed donations, among other services. They put off repairs for as long as possible, to be able to help people, so many were happy to see the center finally get the repairs it needed
The event kicked off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, where city and local officials, as well as board members and supporters, were in attendance.
“The Long Beach Martin Luther King Center has been an integral and important part of the Long Beach community for many years,” said City Councilwoman Eileen Goggin. “I am thrilled that the center has reopened its doors so it can continue to provide the many wonderful resources and services it has always provided to the people of Long Beach.”
Throughout the day there were games and activities for kids, including mechanical rides. Sports equipment was also distributed, and former NFL player and Long Beach native James “Scottie” Graham was on hand to celebrate.
The event also coincided with the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, a date Hodge said the center pushed hard to be open for.
While the main building has been closed, the center has been running some youth programs out of its annex, a building next door on East Pine Street that was made available to the center by a generous supporter.
Now that they have the gym and more space back, the center can restart many of the educational and athletic youth programs that are vital to the community.
“We’re the help that a lot of people need in our community,” said Hodge.