Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific Festival

African-American Festival Entertains & Educates at Aquarium of Pacific

February 23-24, 2019

ATTRACTION: Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach is one of the nation's premier ocean aquariums. Don't stand in line and wait! Get your tickets here!

By C. MacDonald

LONG BEACH, CA--Poet Abdul-Salaam Muhammad recently received the Heritage Award for his extraordinary work in the community during the Aquarium of the Pacific's 12th Annual African-American Festival. The well-known poet, mentor, volunteer, musician and museum curator, performs with orchestras throughout Southern California promoting jazz and African-American culture.

Since 1967, he has promoted multicultural events which improve race relations and understanding. The former swimming star and lifeguard, also works in gang prevention as a longtime volunteer, mentoring youth, helping them improve their skills and self-esteem and get jobs in sales and marketing.

In 2000, Muhammad began assisting legendary photographer Frank D. Godden, a good friend of the late George Washington Carver (the famous agriculture scientist and inventor) organize a traveling history museum. Today, along with Charles Byrd, he's the co-curator of the Carver Museum of California and the Truth-Brary Traveler Exhibit, part of which was on display at the aquarium. It includes Godden's sensational photos of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Henry Ford as well as invaluable artifacts which explain the significance of African-Americans in US History. School kids in particular love learning history through these photos.

On accepting the Heritage Award, Muhammad, who was nominated for "Poet of the Year" by the National Poetry Society of America, gave framed poems to Aquarium officials. He said, "I'm blessed and humbled by this honor. The aquarium is a very special place… It's 75% water and our blood is 70% water. We all have the same color blood. And I'm proud to receive this honor from an organization which cares so much and is helping give everyone a much better understanding of our oceans--what's in them and what we can do to protect them."

Anthony T. Brown, MBA, CFO and Vice President of Finance, who presented the award, said he loves ethnic festivals. "We're making the aquarium a gathering place to learn from each other and we all share the same land and the ocean," Brown said.

At these fun, ethnic festivals--which also feature Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander and others--the sights, sounds and movements weave bright fabrics of different cultures—all celebrated amidst the wonders of the Pacific. Each festival brings together performers, artists and other cultural ambassadors, who share their talents, crafts and promote understanding. They help bring us together. There's an excitement and appreciation felt, which helps create a better empathy of diverse cultures for present and future generations.

The African American Festival featured storytelling, West African Dance, Breakdancing and Popping, Broadway Dancing, an Interactive Drum Circle and more. One vendor was talented abstract artist Michael Seale, Jr., whose bright cards, caps and boxes were loved by the crowd. Other vendors featured beaded art, African craftwork and forgotten images in American History. The aquarium's Café Scuba Festival Menu included smothered pork chop with white cheddar grits and braised collard greens, Cajun-style catfish with sweet potato mash and grilled vegetables, Cajun veggie wrap with Cajun grilled eggplant, zucchini, black eyed peas and ham plus lots more.

We highly recommend you visit the aquarium's Ethnic Festivals to immerse yourself in another culture, while you're surrounded by and learning about the beautiful Pacific Ocean, which has its own absolutely amazing and memorable diversity. You can find out about their special festivals and events at www.aquariumofpacific.org, 562-590-3100. The Aquarium of the Pacific is located at 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach. To find out about the Carver Museum and Truth-Brary Traveler Exhibit, contact Abdul-Salaam Muhammad (323-928-8861) or Charles Byrd (310-722-0380).

Events are not guaranteed. It is your responsibility to confirm before going.

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