NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) leaders and the Long Beach community celebrated the opening of Freedom Park in Long Beach, which was named after NAACP on Tuesday.
“The organization has played such pivotal role in my life as well as thousands upon thousands of lives that have come before and after me,” Long Beach councilman Dee Andrews said in his speech to the attendees. “Not only African American lives, but all lives of color, in Long Beach and across the United States, the NAACP has helped make a positive change in education and economic development,” he said.
Andrews cut the ceremonial ribbon near the new plaque as the crowd cheered.
Anitra Dempsey, executive director of the City of Long Beach Police Complaint Commission said to the attendees that NAACP is about anybody whose social rights and civil rights are ignored and the park symbolizes that Long Beach stands for equality and justice for all.
“NAACP has a long history in the city and country so it’s a very fitting tribute to name this park after the organization,” Robert Garcia, the Mayor of Long Beach said. “Long Beach is very diverse…It’s a birthplace of a lot of the civil rights movements,” he said.
“The city is proud of this name,” Garcia said to the attendees. “This is a good day for the city of Long Beach.”
“I went to one of the original meetings over at El Dorado Park when the Parks and Recreation Commission took up the issue of naming the park,” Carl McBride, an attendee and son of Ernest McBride Sr., a co-founder of the NAACP said. “[People in Long Beach] should know the history of NAACP and how they’ve effected change over 75 years and it’s a fantastic opportunity for everybody to come, enjoy the park, read the plaque, and learn more about it.”
McBride also said that NAACP integrated housing when it was first established and has been active in civil rights for everyone in the community.
NAACP Freedom Park is at 2300 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. in Central Long Beach and the open space is open to the public.