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NAJEE’S NOTES: Lucas Museum coming to Exposition Park

May the force be with South Los Angeles. The Los Angeles City Council moved with lightsaber speed June 27 and voted 14-0 to approve the $1.5 billion George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art which Star Wars’ creator George Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson plan to build in Exposition Park, which is in the heart of Councilman Curren Price’s 9th District.

As a youth, I grew up loving the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” franchises. Lucas is a creative genius who brought my life so much joy with his movies. I felt like a school kid again as I watched him address the City Council members. I, along with hundreds of others who packed council chambers, was riveted to every word he said.

“For a very brief time, I grew up here,” said Lucas, who earned a degree in film from USC. “That’s where I learned movies. That’s where I learned my craft. Basically, where I started my career was in school here.”

Lucas said his museum won’t just focus on movies, however, but on the entire history of narrative storytelling, from the days of cave painting to digital film.

“I realized that the whole concept of narrative art has been forgotten,” he told the council.

With theapproval, plans are to break ground in Exposition Park, south of downtown, as early as this year and open the museum to the public in 2021. The city says the project will cost taxpayers nothing because Lucas and his wife are footing the bill.

“It is the largest private gift in our city, in our state or in our nation’s history,” Councilman Price said.

After the vote was completed, Price walked over and gave Lucas, and his wife a big hug. And everyone in this city needs to give Price a big hug and thank you. Price, as Lucas acknowledged in his statements, played a major part in making sure this museum came to South L.A. after it failed to land a home in San Francisco and Chicago.

If it wasn’t for Price, this museum would not be on its way to South L.A. along with the hundreds of jobs that will come with this project, plus a major increase in tourism and dollars spent in South L.A. once the museum is open.

So, our entire city should be excited about the George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. The $1.5 billion project is the largest private gift to an American city that will transform two parking lots along Exposition Park into a 300,000 square-foot, five-story, state-of-the-art cultural institution. Once built, the Lucas Museum, which will include collections, films and exhibitions, will draw more than 1 million visitors annually.

It will offer public lectures and classes, workshops and other programs year round for students and adults.

This museum coming to our city and my neighborhood of South L.A. made this a great week. Job well done by our council member, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. And a big sincere thank you to George Lucas and Mellody Hobson for choosing South L.A.

Rev. Fred K. Price Jr., the pastor of the 28,000-member Crenshaw Christian Center, sent shockwaves through his congregation and South L.A. when he announced June 25 that he was stepping down from the pulpit due to “personal misjudgments.” Price (no relation to Curren Price) didn’t specify his “misjudgments” but noted they were “serious” and that he is working to correct them with the help of his church’s leadership team.

“Approximately a month ago I came before you to announce that I would be taking a three-week sabbatical,” Price told the congregation. “Well I’m here today to give you an update. I have struggled with, I have struggled with and am correcting and making amends for serious personal misjudgments which have affected my life and my family and which I deeply regret.

“I have betrayed the trust of God, my family and you, my church, and for that I am so sorry. Therefore, I’m gonna step down as pastor at this time,” he said as the congregation erupted in shock. I’m not sure what Price did. In fact, it’s none of my business so I refuse to even speculate. I will just keep him and his family in prayer.

And finally, the Long Beach Bayou Festival was awesome. We had so much fun last weekend. This festival, sponsored by Rainbow Productions, had thousands of festival goers, no arrests, not one incident of trouble.

Only thing that happened was a lot of black people came together had a great time, ate great food and danced the night away. Looking forward to carpooling to the San Diego Jazz Festival next month. Anyone else interested email me, so we can party from South L.A. To San Diego.

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