Contributing Writer: Everett Mason
“Let’em recognize from Long Beach to Rosecrans, bumpin’ and grindin’ like a slow jam..” – Dr. Dre
The City of Long Beach is a natural mecca for tourists. It is a main terminal for Carnival Cruise Lines, and there are sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina that anchor the rich social life of the city. With a beautiful bay, it would seem that this is an ideal city to chase the “American Dream” that so many members of this ethnically diverse city consider their birthright to achieve.
But like many other cities across the great U.S., there were bans on Black people owning homes in desirable neighborhoods and many other efforts to keep us out. But the Long Beach of today is different. We are represented in city government and a multitude of black businesses continue to pop up as the city’s demographics continue to evolve. A large part of this is thanks to Ernest McBride Sr. After co-founding the Long Beach chapter of the NAACP, McBride established himself as a local legend by successfully fighting to integrate the Long Beach Police and Fire Departments, the Naval Shipyard and General Telephone Company.
So with that in mind, our first duty is to support the businesses that flourish here. We have Village Treasures, a Downtown imports shop that has been a fixture for almost 20 years. Or maybe you need to stop and visit Shades of Afrika. This store offers a wide variety of Afrikan cultured and holistic products, including natural hair products, body and aroma oils, holistic herbs, tea, as well as educational books and DVD’s. If you’re into arts and crafts then slide over to Slice of Jamaica. The owner, Balford, is an artist from Montego Bay. Shopping for us grown folk just go spicier with the opening of the black owned adult store Temporary Satisfaction. The store carries quality merchandise and the owner Crystal is always there to help you out with any questions.
If you’re looking to grub then don’t miss this local favorite, Sal’s Gumbo Shack. It feels like you’re walking into your favorite auntie’s house after she called you over for dinner. Another favorite is R Kitchen. Their ribs and fried chicken are nothing to mess with. They also have vegetarian options that are full of flavor. Looking for seafood, then check out The Bougie Crab.
If you want to eat with a view, then head down Shoreline Village and have a waterfront seat at Louisiana Charlie’s. This Mardi gras themed restaurant offers BBQ and Cajun seafood options. While you watch the boats go by, you can sip on some of the specialty drinks like the ‘Drunk In Love’ which is filled with fresh strawberries, vodka, and topped with an upside down bottle of Champagne.
But of course, you can’t visit Long Beach without visiting the beach that runs from Belmont Shore to Downtown. Along the path you can stop and chill on the sand, hoop at the outdoor courts, rent paddleboards, swan boats, water bikes, ferry boats, jet ski’s and more. If you are around during sunset, then you might catch dolphins playing around in the waves.
Coming soon with the help of local government and other organizations is the Long Beach African American Culture Center. A sure place to be in the next coming months. See you at the shoreline.