Virginia Beach City Council to Discuss Proposed African American Cultural Center on Tuesday

Monday, July 13, 2015

​During the City Council briefing on Tuesday, July 14 at 3 p.m., Councilmember Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond will address the progress, goals and vision of the proposed African American Cultural Center, which was established as a high priority during the City Council’s Leadership and Strategic Planning Workshop on Feb. 6, 2015.

The City Council briefing will be held at the City Manager’s Conference Room at City Hall, Building 1, Room 234, 2401 Courthouse Drive. Council meetings are cablecast live on VBTV Cox Cable channel 48, Verizon Cable channel 45, and on's Media Center. The meeting is rebroadcast on Cox channel 48 and Verizon channel 45 the following Thursday at 7 p.m.; Friday at 9 a.m.; and Sunday at 9 a.m. 


With a goal of making Virginia Beach another “hub for African American culture and a historic resource in the region,” the center is proposed to be constructed on 4.8 acres of city-owned land at Lake Edwards Park, surrounded by six of the 12 historically African American neighborhoods in Virginia Beach — Newsome Farm, Lake Edwards, Burton Station, Reedtown, Grace Town and Lake Smith.


During Tuesday’s briefing, Dr. Ross-Hammond will unveil a conceptual rendering of the building and ask the City Council to commit land to house the center, which will showcase Virginia Beach’s 12 historically African American communities, along with collections and artifacts. Amenities will include a historic journey walking trail, outdoor event spaces, a gallery, a rotunda hall and multipurpose classrooms.


“One of the first concerns I heard after taking office was the longing of many elderly and middle-aged community members to have a repository for historic artifacts,” Dr. Ross-Hammond said. “There is a lot of history and culture we need to preserve and share with future generations. This will bring a sense of pride to the community and showcase such traditions as storytelling, the spoken word, and arts and crafts unique to the culture. In the age of high technology, there is still a need to be grounded in the cultural values of elders.”


Working with civic and business leaders, Dr. Ross-Hammond established an executive board, a legal advisory board, and a community advisory board. The executive board envisions a 25,000-square-foot, two-story building replicating the African Palaver Hut, a central gathering space for community celebrations, conflict resolutions, spiritual renewal and mentoring the next generations through their rites of passage.


“It will be a place where local residents and tourists can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience relating to their lives historically, aesthetically, spiritually and culturally,” Dr. Ross-Hammond said. “It will highlight the contributions of African Americans to the region and establish an additional tourism asset for Virginia Beach. We will continue to seek public involvement throughout each phase of development.”


For more information, please contact Councilmember Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond at (757) 646-1709 or


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