San Diego City Council will present San Diego Continuing Education (SDCE) with a City Council Proclamation pronouncing August 28, 2019, the first day of fall semester, as San Diego Continuing Education Day in San Diego.
During the City Council meeting on July 23, 2019, City Council members voted unanimously to support the proclamation, which recognizes SDCE as the largest adult education provider of noncredit college instruction in the state and several important historical events have occurred at SDCE that have impacted the history of American civil rights.
SDCE’s Educational Cultural Complex (ECC) is one of seven campuses in San Diego. ECC serves as SDCE’s flagship campus and has established a reputation in southeastern San Diego as a vibrant educational and cultural center with rich roots, especially amongst the city’s African American residents.
SDCE’s Historical Preservation Ad Hoc Committee meets regularly to preserve, conserve, protect and display objects and artifacts of historical significance that belong to ECC. The committee’s work was instrumental in the creation of the City Council Proclamation. ECC has been a symbol of community and African American activism since its beginnings in 1972. Under the leadership of President Turner Cortez, the Committee intends to memorialize the significant contributions and events that impacted the history of American civil rights at SDCE.
Many significant events have ties to ECC, including the California Commission to establish Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a federal holiday. Former SDCE Provost, Dr. Robert Matthews, hosted a committee at ECC and a successful campaign that ultimately established the federal holiday in 1983.
Civil Rights leader Coretta Scott King delivered a speech at ECC in 1985, award-winning artist and humanitarian Stevie Wonder performed a concert at ECC in 1986 and Civil Rights activist and American poet Maya Angelou performed and spoke at ECC in 1987.
SDCE has received numerous first place awards over the past 12 years during the Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade, an event that began out of ECC in 1980 by former SDCE Provost, Dr. Robert Matthews, and fellow Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity (Zeta Sigma Lambda Chapter) brothers organized.
The San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) Board of Trustees adopted a resolution last year to support the recognition of the impressive civil rights history associated with ECC. Carlos O. Turner Cortez, Ph.D., President of SDCE, presented plans to request an official Civil Rights Landmark Designation of SDCE’s ECC and the SDCCD Board of Trustees approved the submission of a proposal to the City of San Diego for official Civil Rights Landmark Designation of ECC.
“The inclusion of ECC as a national landmark is important because out of the thousands of landmarks in San Diego not too often are ethnic and minority groups truly represented,” said President Turner Cortez. “Too often American history is shared without regard to racial groups. As a higher education institution, we must continue to celebrate social justice and cultural diversity because black history is American history. The public recognition will remind our students about their rich heritage and ancestors who continued to excel at all areas in life despite hardships and obstacles.”
Every February, SDCE invites the Mountain View community to commemorate Black History Month through art and performance at ECC.
SDCE’s long-term vision is to update the historic theatre at ECC to continue the legacy and inclusion of all cultures by promoting and supporting live performance.