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San Diego leaders propose Black arts and culture district in Encanto

The San Diego Black Arts and Culture District would brand the Imperial Avenue area in San Diego’s Encanto neighborhood as a Black cultural center.

San Diego Council President Pro Tem Monica Montgomery Steppe said it would honor the hard work and contributions of the Black community.

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“An Arts District has the potential to help us attract more business, more cultural organizations, events and tourism to this area while not forgetting who we are and who got us there,” Montgomery Steppe said.

The actual location of the district would be on Imperial Avenue between 61st and 69th streets, including Marie Widman Memorial Park.

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Jacob Aere
Leaders in San Diego gather outside of San Diego City Hall after announcing a proposal for a Black Arts and Culture District in Encanto, April 13, 2022.

Urban Warriors CEO Dajahn Blevins said community members have been trying to create a Black cultural district for 30 years.

“When I want to go affirm me and (how I look) and who we are and what we are, and get a feeling of love and rejuvenation, now there’s a place where we can go do that,” Blevins said. “When my family comes and visits from Atlanta and they say ‘hey take us to the spot’ … now we got a spot!”

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California Secretary of State Shirley Weber represented California’s 79th Assembly District for nine years. She said the designation would create opportunities for a historically underserved community.

“To have bookstores, to have stores where you can go and buy cultural artifacts, where you can basically go and listen to lectures, all in one place, all with the energy that’s there. It will teach our children who we are and why we are,” Weber said.

The City Council’s Economic Development Committee heard the proposal for the Black arts and culture district for the first time on Wednesday afternoon.