Long Beach’s Billie Jean King Library could be one step closer to reality

Billie Jean King Library

Billie Jean King hold her Bobblehead at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2019 during the team’s LGBT Nite. Photo:Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

LONG BEACH — Naming the new Long Beach library after Billie Jean King is expected to cross another hurdle today.

The City’s Housing and Neighborhoods Committee is scheduled to vote on whether the item should be approved and sent back to the City Council for a final vote. The Committee meets at 2:30 today in Long Beach City Council Chambers.

The council approved the idea last week and forwarded the motion to the Housing and Neighborhoods Committee. The council vote was 7-0. Councilwoman Suzie Price was absent from the meeting and the District One council seat is vacant.  A special election will take place next year to fill the open seat left by Lena Gonzalez, who had more than three years remaining in her term and was elected to the State Senate.

The 93,000 square foot library is scheduled to open September 21.

The recommendation for the committee is to approve naming the facility the Billie Jean King Main Library. The three-member committee includes Councilmen Dee Andrews, Al Austin, Daryl Supernaw.

Ted Tinling, gay tennis-fashion designer, gave Billie Jean King style

During last week’s council vote, some members of the public disagreed with the naming idea in general. They suggested instead to simply name it the Long Beach Main Library.

Other people said that King is identified with athletics, not education.

Supporters said that the tennis legend and Long Beach native inspires greatness among all people.

Apart from Harvey Milk Park and Billie Jean King Tennis Center, near Woodrow Wilson High School and Park Estates, no other city spaces have been named for people who identify as LGBTQ.

More than 1,200 community members sent letters or signed petitions supporting the idea that the library be named for King.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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