NewsLocal NewsGrand Rapids


NIA Center looks to bring African American Cultural Center to Grand Rapids

Resized_Resized_20210310_102846 2.JPEG
Posted at 9:22 PM, Feb 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-18 22:31:26-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — An African American Cultural Center could be coming to Grand Rapids. Organizers for NIA Center are working to build a state-of-the-art home for their vision.

"That's what our center is doing. We are bringing people together," NIA Center Board Chair Robert Upton Jr. told FOX 17.

NIA Center Grand Rapids' current home is on Commerce Avenue.

"We really liked this space because it gave us access to the underserved within the community in, in our communities of color," he said.

Their home might be small right now, but they're dreaming bigger.

"We will either build an African American Cultural Center or find a space that can accommodate our efforts," Upton said.

He wants to bring a unique experience to West Michigan.

"We don't have an African American Cultural Center in Grand Rapids; we have an African American museum that's located in Grand Rapids; the difference here would be, we will be focusing in on bringing people together around culture," Upton said.

They're always hosting events at different locations in Grand Rapids. In October, FOX 17 introduced you to one of their My Story exhibitions.

READ MORE: Famous painter stops in Grand Rapids to showcase his latest works focusing on African American women

Nationally known artist Jon McDonald showcases paintings of strong African American women. That art is still on display at their current home.

"Just to see his beautiful... of this amazing African American women hanging on our walls, we are just honored to be able to be a place that can present such artwork at the highest level," he added.

The people at NIA Center are always looking to elevate cultural awareness. Their latest project is a room where they produce and air podcasts.

"So, it will be a great way for the young people to learn about the stories of their elders and see how they can perhaps become successful, just like some of the people that they will have the opportunity to interview," Upton said.

Upton hopes with this awareness bigger things lie ahead for them.

"We're here for the community. And I think we have a wonderful space for the community to be able to enjoy. We know that this... we recognize this is going to be a prototype for something even bigger that's coming," he said.

At this point, they're not currently fundraising for a new building. They are looking for donations to go toward programs that benefit the community.

Follow FOX 17: Facebook - Twitter - Instagram - YouTube