2020 Airport Noise Ordinance Neighborhood Impact Fund
Legal-name: Historical Society of Long Beach
Address: 4260 Atlantic Ave
City: Long Beach
Title: Executive Director
Contact-title: Executive Director
Grant-title: A Woman’s Place in the Spotlight
Grant-purpose: “A Woman’s Place in the Spotlight” enhances the neighborhood through window displays that share stories of dynamic, local women who positively impacted Long Beach at the Historical Society of Long Beach, 4260 Atlantic Avenue.
What-is-project: On August 26, 2020, The Historical Society of Long Beach (HSLB) planned to open an exhibition commemorating the Suffrage Centennial, called “A Woman’s Place in the Spotlight.” Our fundraising was underway when the kick-off fundraising event scheduled for March 18th was abruptly postponed due to COVID. As postponements gave way to cancellations, we pivoted our exhibition to outward-facing window displays and online pieces. Our fundraising continues so that we may continue operating and sharing the stories of local women’s history.
With the proposed funding from the Airport Neighborhood Impact Fund, we plan to highlight the lives of five local women between February and June of 2021. Here are the women whose stories we plan to spotlight.
Myrtelle Gunsul, who became the City of Long Beach’s first elected City Auditor in 1919. She served in that position for 32 years and remains the longest-serving Long Beach elected official in Long Beach history.
Darthula Bougess was born in 1886 and moved to Long Beach in 1929. She gave talks about the history of Black people in the United States. She also wrote a survey in 1935 called “The Negro in Long Beach.” In 1956, she and Mrs. Willie White organized the Bougess White Scholarship Foundation that still awards college scholarships.
Evelyn Knight was born in Africa Town, Alabama, and moved to Long Beach in the 1960s. She worked as a social worker, went to Selma, and marched with Martin Luther King. Ms. Knight remains a local leader for social justice.
State Senator Jenny Oropeza was the first in her family to attend college and was the first Latina elected President of the Associated Students at CSULB. She went on to become the first Latina elected to the Long Beach City Council. Later, she served three terms in the California Assembly and two terms in the State Senate before her passing in 2010.
Sara Pol-Lim was born in Cambodia and immigrated to the United States. She became the Executive Director of the United Cambodian Community Inc. where she brought the organization through difficult times. Today, Ms. Pol-Lim is a leader for social justice and serves as a Regional Program Manager for the U.S. Census.
How-will-you-succeed: The project has several sources of support. Funding from the Port of Long Beach and many individuals will support an online series “A Woman’s Place — Spotlight on the Port” which highlights women related to the harbor. Other funds will support additional Spotlights online and in our storefront windows. The number of women highlighted will increase with additional funding, or decrease if adequate funding is not secured.
Who-are-you: The Historical Society of Long Beach collects, preserves, and presents local history. Through historical collections, exhibits, and programs we connect people to the past and to the place they live. We present an inclusive community narrative and help create greater understanding of our neighborhoods, the city, and its place in the larger world. We engage the community in thinking about what makes Long Beach unique.
HSLB has over 20-years of experience presenting public history displays. Since 2007, we have mounted exhibitions in our Bixby Knolls gallery. HSLB would have opened a gallery exhibition called “A Woman’s Place in the Spotlight” about the history of women in Long Beach had COVID not interrupted. Since March, we have been repositioning displays for view by pedestrians. This project provides us the opportunity to share curated information and continue our plan of telling women’s stories in commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting suffrage to women.
We joined forces with the Long Beach Suffrage 100 group of women to collect and share the stories of local women to commemorate the 19th Amendment. For nearly one year we have been specifically calling for the community to share biographies of local women who broke barriers, or who gave extraordinary service to the community. These biographies are being added to our archive and select stories were to be used in the gallery exhibition. Now, we are pivoting this exhibition to be shared in our storefront windows and online.