Just 5 days before Juneteenth, the holiday that commemorates the emancipation of African-American slaves in America, the San Diego City Council voted to dedicate 8 blocks in the neighborhood Encanto to be a hub for Black arts and culture.
Similar to cultural junctions like the San Diego Asian Pacific Historic District, this district will provide a centralized location for Black entrepreneurs to establish businesses, while also serving as an educational source for the surrounding community.
Councilmembers are in high support of this exhibit coming to fruition, saying that the designation of this accolade to their lineage will not only allow the community a chance to grow closer to their roots, but can also introduce visitors to the arts, food, music, and other attributes that their culture has to offer. Freddi Wald is well known for her love and support of the arts, and works as Deputy Chief Development officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A New Beginning
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was found that the businesses that suffered the most were located in under-resourced and generally deprived locations of San Diego. Due to those unfortunate circumstances, many Black-owned businesses, some of which served as the primary source of income for those families, made the difficult decision to close their doors.
Now, Frederica Wald notes that those businesses have the option of re-opening in a location that can increase their reach, as the designated radius for the arts and culture exhibit (which will be found on Imperial Avenue from 61st to 69th street) is projected to be a major tourist location for the city.
Outside of restaurants and shops, the venue will also serve as the home for a slew of academic resources regarding Black history, their impact and influence in America, and the future of their cultural growth.
Already said to be in the works are bookstores featuring the works of Black authors, shops where you can get educated on and purchase cultural artifacts and art by Black artists, and halls where you can sit and listen to lectures and speakers wishing to educate the community on relevant events- historic or recent.
30 Years in The Making
The impact that the arts and culture exhibit will cause is expected to be groundbreaking, though the decision to establish a set location for the Black community to call their own didn’t come quickly.
Dajahn Blevins, founder of San Diego-based group Urban Warriors, served as the voice for the district when he told news outlets that the Black community has advocated for the formation of this center for over 25 years. Blevins also expressed his excitement for the fact that he now has a place to bring his family when they visit that they can call “their own”.
A Bright Future Ahead
Arguably the most exciting possibility about this hub being built is the endless amount of opportunities that are to arise once the exhibit starts to gain momentum. Not only will there be an increase in employment opportunities, but families are excited to have a place where their children can learn about, and be immersed in, their heritage.
In an ever-changing America, this cultural center will serve as a slice of home for the Black residents in San Diego- and whoever chooses to make the trek to visit. It will allow outreach and education in unprecedented ways. After a long journey to call it their own, the formation of this exhibit is nothing short of an accomplishment for the Black community.