State grant to renovate historic Southeast San Diego theater

Coretta Scott King speaks at the Cultural Educational Complex in 1983. Courtesy of the San Diego Community College District

A historic theater in southeast San Diego that has hosted civil rights pioneers such as Coretta Scott King, Maya Angelou, James Meredith and Jesse Jackson will be completely renovated with a $ 35 million state grant.

Senate Speaker Toni Atkins pledged the grant in July and announced in a ceremony Friday that the funding was in California’s 2021-2022 budget.

The theater, located in the educational cultural complex of the San Diego College of Continuing Education in Mountain View, will be upgraded with modern acoustic panels, sound system and lighting, while the lobby, foyer and seating will be renovated. The project is expected to be completed in 2024.

“We both recognize history and reinvest in the future, which is so important today,” Atkins said at the ceremony.

“The layers of this rich treasure are deeper than I ever imagined. We are sitting on the history of civil rights. This is sacred ground, ”said San Diego Community College District Chancellor Carlos O. Turner Cortez.

The resort at 4343 Ocean View Boulevard has been a symbol of African American community and arts, culture and activism since its inception in 1972. Coretta Scott King’s speech in 1983 influenced the decision to sign the law creating the national Martin Luther King Jr.. holiday.

“The iconic ECC Theater has been an invaluable asset in Southeast San Diego, at the intersection of the arts and activism, we have brought the benefits of change right here to this historic Civil Rights Campus “said Councilor Montgomery Steppe. “There is no doubt that this is a safe community space known to be at the center of the Cultural Revolution in our community and known to be woven into the fabric of civil rights advocacy.”

Today, the resort continues to honor its inaugural purpose, welcoming the public each February for a Black History Month celebration featuring live music, dancing and symbolic lyrics by African-American heritage.

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