Ribbon cutting ceremony/homecoming for a community
Photo of city officials cutting the ribbon.
Ali’s Director Drew Tucker with Hazel Armbrister. (Photos by Robert Madrid)
By Nelson Underdue
There was a homecoming this weekend in Pompano Beach. It was very similar to homecomings for any high school or university, but at the same time, it was unlike any homecoming that preceded it.
Last Thursday’s ribbon cutting ceremony marked the grand opening of the Ali Cultural Arts Center, located at 357 Hammondville Rd. While the term grand opening is technically accurate, as this will be the first center of its kind in the Northwest district with a heavy emphasis on promoting visual, musical and expressive arts to and for the community, the Ali building itself has served as a center refuge and familiarity for the Black residents of Pompano Beach for over half a century. It may be a grand opening to the rest of the world, but for the residents of the community, it’s a homecoming.
Drew Tucker, the director of the Ali Center hosted Thursday’s festivities. “This is just the beginning” Tucker said “great things are happening here and the community will benefit from it.”
South Florida residents from outside of Pompano, the visiting team if you will, got a chance to preview the Ali building’s courtyard which also doubles as a concert pavilion.
Pompano Beach mayor Lamar Fisher, the acting principal for the homecoming celebration, introduced the alumni of the Ali Building, a collection of Pompano Beach city commissioners and officials who helped to ensure the preservation of the center.
The homecoming Court, in this case, would be the Ali family, the descendants of the original owners of the house, Frank and Florence Major Ali, the philanthropic couple after whom the building is named.
Also in attendance was the Homecoming Queen, Hazel Armbrister, the woman whose efforts are responsible for the buildings salvation from imminent demolition. “We can’t cut the ribbon until Hazel arrives” Mayor Fisher said as he looked into the crowd for Armbrister, “Without her, none of this is possible.”
The home team, Pompano Beach residents, were serenaded throughout the night by a band, not a marching band, but a band nonetheless, as they accompanied The Pompano Poets Collective, a spoken word poetry group.
Tours of the facility were also given as artwork contributed by local artist Prince Aderele was on display inside.
“The city [of Pompano Beach] needs this” said District 5 City Commissioner Barry Moss. “ This will start to feel like a real downtown again.”
Thursday’s ribbon cutting
ceremony kicked off a weekend of activities at the Ali Center which included an Open house on Friday and culminated with a concert on Saturday that featured Grammy Award winner Corey Henry and the Funk Apostles.
Thursday’s ribbon cutting ceremony proved to be a homecoming for a community of residents who were schooled in the fields of brotherhood and compassion at the Ali Center, an Institute of Higher Aspirations.