Commissioner Goldstein Proposes Black Music and Cultural Center
Last updated 6/24/2020 at 12:15pm
Williamson Photography of Lake Wales
City Commissioner Al Goldstein is proposing that the city fund a "Lake Wales Black Music and Cultural Center" on Lincoln Avenue.
He brought it up at the end of the June 16 commission meeting, and plans to talk more about it during the July budget workshop.
"Why music? Because Blacks are famous in music," Goldstein said, noting Elvis Presley was greatly influenced by Black musicians and Black gospel music.
Goldstein said Black children often have low self-esteem and that creating a center "where these kids can come learn about their race" could help boost their pride: "I'm tired of hearing the word 'can't.' We have to help these kids learn that they can accomplish anything in their lives."
Attorney Sara Jones, president of the Lincoln Community Development Corporation, said there should be a community discussion about Goldstein's cultural center proposal rather than the city funding a project that is the idea of one commissioner.
"It's difficult to talk about music when the people need housing," Jones said. "I think that we have some priorities we've already laid out that we need to focus on first."
Jones said promoting business in the Northwest section and in-fill housing are Lincoln CDC priorities.
"Resources are limited," Jones said, "I think the priorities we already laid out are the priorities we need to address until we make some headway on those priorities."
Goldstein said he has talked to some Black community leaders who support his idea. He says the center would have films, photos, books and other items about Black history and heroes. He said children are not learning enough about the accomplishments of Black people
"I just want some place where they can learn about themselves. I want white people to go in there, too," Goldstein said. "We hear only Black Lives Matter. Yes, they do, but all lives matter."
"I want to retain the brainpower of Lake Wales rather than having them all leave, becoming athletes and going somewhere else."
Goldstein said the city can find the funds for a cultural center within its current resources or possibly borrow since interest rates are very low at this time. He said he would like to redirect the nearly $78,000 the city pledged in applying for a state matching grant to preserve and restore the Historic Stuart House on Central Avenue. He said private donors who care about the historic bungalow should fund the match.
"I don't think the Stuart House means anything to anyone in the Black community, or people in Lake Ashton," said Goldstein, who lives in Lake Ashton and is the gated community's commission representative.