Pearce proposes naming new main library after tennis pro King

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Pearce proposes naming new main library after tennis pro King

Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King

Wikimedia Commons

Billie Jean King

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Billie Jean King

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City officials on Wednesday announced that they have received “overwhelming support” for naming the new 93,000-square-foot main library after Long Beach’s own Billie Jean King, former World No. 1 professional tennis player.

Second District Councilmember Jeannine Pearce’s office indicated that nearly 1,000 community members have sent their support, including a letter from 27 LGBTQ community leaders, the Century Club– which represents nearly 500 members– and the Main Library Naming Committee.

King credits local libraries and parks for her success, according to Pearce’s office, which, in a press release this week, referred to the athlete as “not just a pioneering athlete” but also an established author who advocates for gender equality and social justice.

“She is regarded by many in the sport as one of the greatest women’s tennis players of all time,” states the press release. “King was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987. She also founded the Women’s Tennis Association and The Women’s Sports Foundation. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama for her advocacy for the rights of women and the LGBTQ community. In 2014, she founded the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, a nonprofit that addresses the conversation surrounding diversity and inclusivity.”

Pearce has agendized an item requesting to name the new library that will open on Sept. 21 as the “Billie Jean King Main Library.”

Upon receipt of the letters of support, Pearce convened a meeting of 2nd District members, including: School Board Member Juan Benitez, Long Beach Community Action Partnership Executive Director Darick Simpson, AOC7 Board Member Rocio Torres, Youth and Families Commissioner Ennette Morton and Former President LBCCD Governing Board of Trustees Dianne McNinch to review the suggestions. The group unanimously support naming the library after King because of the diverse support that was given from the community, as well as the value of equality it represents, city officials said.

Pearce’s office also indicated that the timing for this item is important because the Library Foundation continues to push toward reaching its fundraising goals and the naming would ensure the library has robust programming and resources for seniors, youth, the LGBTQ and disabled communities, and those experiencing job loss or homelessness.

“Thank you to everyone who submitted suggestions,” Pearce said. “I am humbled to present the community letters to the Housing and Neighborhoods Committee, with the support of […] nearly 1,000 community members who requested our library be named after Billie Jean King. She is more than an athlete. She is a woman with determination, a graduate of Poly High School, an author and a woman that changed the world of sports for everyone. I can think of no better opportunity to support our community and our library system than this.”