Things to do in Long Beach : Your guide to #BlackownedLBC
Updated: May 9
When you think of Long Beach what comes to mind? Is it Chicken and Waffles from Roscoe’s or the convenient Long Beach Airport that has you from the curb to the gate in five minutes max? For me it’s the song we loved and sang at the top of our lungs growing up ”Summertime in the LBC”’. And although most people don’t think about Long Beach’s Juneteenth Festival, community leaders and the local community have created the ultimate Juneteenth celebration to change that.
Founded in 2021 by Carl Kemp, Long Beach’s Juneteenth Festival has quickly become one of SoCals signature annual events. Juneteenth commemorates the day when all of the enslaved population in the United States learned of their freedom. History tells us that even though Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, enslaved persons in Galveston, Texas did not hear of the news until June 19, 1865 when the Union Soldiers arrived an announced that the Civil War was over. Since then, it has been the oldest observance in our nation’s history celebrating the end of slavery.
Most Black households in the United States have always observed Juneteenth. Dubbed as our ”Independence Day”, we wear red, black and green to pay homage to those who have gone before us. We eat food that represents those colors like watermelon, black eyed peas, collard greens and red velvet cake. And although it's old to us, it’s new to many, as the celebration became a federal holiday in the United States in June 2020.
Celebrating Juneteenth on a national level is acknowledging that Black history matters. Celebrating Juneteenth on a local level is the acknowledgement that Black communities, their voices, contributions, ideas and history matters. With a Black mayor and a Black President of the Long Beach airport, it's refreshing to see that Long Beach is progressive and provides opportunities for every resident to excel on a local and government level.
Eat: When in long beach, your tastebuds will thank you. Here are some of my favorite Black owned restaurants. I apologize in advance because you will want to order everything on the menu:
Devi Donuts: We weren't sure how we'd feel about vegan donuts, but they made believers out of us. Created in 2016 Devi's Donuts and sweets hits the sweet spot. We had a half dozen, and our favorites were the Oreo Crumb and Classic Strawberry.
Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles: Did you eat at Roscoe's, if you didn't eat with Mr. Roscoe? I walked into Roscoe's and Mr. Roscoe was waiting on me. ''You're thee Roscoe,'' I asked. ''In the flesh,”' he answered. As soon as he said that another young lady walked up and gave him a hug. Now I know what you're thinking, but no, this is not the Roscoe that Roscoe's is named after lol.
Mr. Roscoe Owens is the marketing manager for the beloved world-famous chain and his name just happened to fit the job perfectly. Everyone loves Chicken and Waffles and especially from Roscoe’s, but most people don't know that the long beach location was the first. Created in the 1970's, the restaurant is so much more than it's menu. Roscoe’s often hosts jazz converts, sales black art and Roscoe’s memorabilia and even hot sauce you can use at home. So when you decide to eat at Roscoe's be prepared for the Roscoe's experience!
Sals Gumbo Shack: Sal's Gumbo shack came highly recommended by Long Beach’s Mayor Rex Richardson. Now I almost didn'tBeach,eve him when he told me it'd be the best gumbo I've had in California because my family is from Louisiana, but I can confirm the gumbo was fantastic.
When visiting Long Beach you can find two locations for Sal's. No matter which one you visit, you will feel like you're walking into your aunt's house, as you are greeted and treated like family. Mayor Rex left out that he has his own meal named after him, and with an extensive menu, Sal's makes it hard to choose what to get. The service is great, the mural celebrating Black excellence was everything to me, and we enjoyed our gumbo and crab boil.
Drink: It's happy hour somewhere, and here's how you can enjoy it
Waters Edge: Another recommendation from Mayor Rex, is his frat brother’s winery Waters Edge. Located in Downtown, it's the cities first winery. Globally sourced and locally crafted, they offer over 30 wines annually.
Shop: In any destination I love to shop. It's the time when you get a great sense of the vibe of the city and what matters to the community. I came away with some amazing finds and awesome gifts. Even more than my purchases the best thing I got was the opportunity to get to know the people behind these establishments and that is something money can’t buy.
Village Treasures:is a truly a treasure of SoCal Ms. Maxine has found a way to bring the Mother Land to Long Beach and she’s done it in abundance. A concept created in 1986 from a study group about Egypt blossomed into this treasure chest full of gems with artifacts and knowledge of tribes and traditions throughout Africa. There’s this one piece I have my eye own, and if the buyer doesn’t come back by next year, I’m making her an offer. Not only did I learn about Africa, I learned about Long Beach as Ms. Maxine was born and raised here. She taught me about local legends like Dorris Topsey Elvord and all the organizations and events that shape Black owned Long Beach.
Native Sol: From the moment you step into Native Sol your vibe shifts. It’s like walking into your favorite cousin’s house and admiring everything they have. With 4th street being the heart of Long Beach it’s safe to say this business is the sol (pun intended). With unique gifts throughout the store in the form of apparel, jewelry, stationary and more I was IN LOVE. I wanted everything, and as a ”just because” or ”thinking of you” gift giver their items were EVERYTHING.
But meeting Mr. Tyrone was the highlight! His family has been contributing to Long Beach culture for years, creating spaces for creativity and the arts. Learning
about Long Beaches reggae scene and festival circuit was intriguing, and I kept saying “Here? In long Beach?” He put me up on so much game, and I can’t wait to visit again and take part of some of the programs they’ve implemented.
Visiting Long Beach is always a great idea, and I am excited for you to experience the Long Beach Juneteenth celebration! When visiting make sure you support Black. For a full Black owned Long Beach itinerary, make sure you follow it in the ABC Travel Greenbook app. Travel Well, Travel Long Beach!