We’ve all heard the old adage: It takes a village. Well, this was certainly the case in North Long Beach over the weekend...
On June 6, 2015, North Long Beach hosted its first Beach Streets Festival made possible by Metro Los Angeles, Long Beach City Council member Rex Richardson, and the Uptown Business District in conjunction with the Whole Village initiative. The atmosphere was live and joyous over the a love of cycling, community, and live entertainment.
The Whole Village initiative is a dual effort by Long Beach 9th District City Council member Rex Richardson, Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) Board Member, Megan Kerr, and the North Long Beach Education Foundation. Its mission is to support schools and youth in the North Long Beach area, with a focus on improving conditions and outcomes for boys and young men of color. This effort is centered on four main initiatives: After-school Programs, Mentoring Opportunities, College Readiness, and Jobs and Internships to help students succeed. The inaugural Beach Street’s Village Fest was a concert to commemorate that.
Beach Street Village Fest saw the entire community come out in full force to showcase local businesses local transit, health, and recreation options. Throughout the day, people showed up in droves, many on bikes, to support local vendors and artists, who had much to say about the significance of the event.
Ryan Lucas, award-winning emcee & producer, better known as the “DC Gentleman,” warmed up the crowd with his rousing and insightful lyrics. Lucas has been rapping for 5 years and cited Talib Kweli, J. Dilla, and Mos Def as inspirations for his art. When asked about the significance of such a showcase and the Whole Village Initiative, Lucas stated that “this has a high value to the community, especially Long Beach.”
Someone else who recognizes the value of such an event is North Long Beach native, Charlie E. Scott III. His band, Philosophy and the Scholars, an eclectic music group, gave the crowd a thought-provoking performance. After wrapping up their set on stage with live vocals and spoken word, I had the chance to speak with them about what #BeachStreets means to their community. Philosophy explained how much of a transformation North Long Beach has undergone and described it as “a diamond in the rough, uncovered.” Philosophy also thanked Councilman Rex Richardson, who represents the area, for his role in getting the event off the ground and for his support of the community. “Rex Richardson is spearheading the movement. He is pulse of the event. He is the catalyst to the change of Long Beach,” he said.
Inkwell J, another native of North Long Beach, stated that performing at the festival was like coming home. She echoed Philosophy’s words when asked about Rex Richardson’s efforts in stating that, “what he’s doing is transformative” to the community at-large.
After giving one of the best performances of the day, world-class rapper YoYo, emphasized the importance of creating leaders and mentors inside the village. “We have stop sending our kids away. It’s time to let them learn,” YoYo said. YoYo, after 25 years in music, felt the necessity of performing in front of the Long Beach crowd. She mentioned that Village Fest is the type of an event “that allows her to reach back and connect to the people one-on-one.” Being able to do was an honor and pleasure for her, as she wants to clarify what it looks like to be a leader in her own community.
Similarly, the host of the afternoon, Uncle Todd, mentioned the same. When asked about the 9th District Whole Village initiative and Rex Richardson's leadership, he stated that Rex Richardson "brings that young energy and this what the community and youth need - for the future." Something quite clearly on display throughout the whole afternoon.
Los Rakas, a bilingual Hip-Hop group based in Oakland, California, rocked the show. Panamanian cousins, Raka Rich and Raka Dun, mentioned how important it was to perform for the city of Long Beach and likened it to performing at home in Oakland.They also mentioned the importance of the Whole Village Initiative and stated that kids who find themselves in this village should continue to “use their resources” because the opportunities are endless.
Shortly afterward, Blu , Exile and King Choosey blazed the stage and set up for the headlining act of Village Fest, The Pharcyde. Both groups had the crowds up in arms singing to their string of hits as everyone celebrated the North Long Beach Community.
After the performance, Rex Richardson waved everyone goodbye and vowed to do everything in his power to bring back this marvelous event to the city of Long Beach.
Check out a FULL Storify of the whole day here of the day's best tweets.
All photos were taken by Makiah Green.
Tyree Boyd-Pates is a man on a mission. As a writer, he aspires to expound on Black culture from a millennial perspective and unite and empower communities through journalism and social media. A Master’s in African American Studies, he also is the creator of#TheCut, a brand new podcast! You can follow him on Twitter: @Tyreebp.