African American cultural center set to open in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — There’s a nonprofit in West Michigan working to launch a one-of-a-kind African American cultural center in Grand Rapids.

It’s called the NIA Centre. It started as a museum in Holland that celebrated Black culture. Now, it’s transitioning into a safe space that gives people of color to a place to call home.

“We’ll be working with at-risk youth, we’ll be working with families and have a whole lot of events and activities they can take advantage of,” said Robert Upton, chair of the Nia Centre.

Workers will use the facility on 300 Commerce Avenue SW as an environment that honors Black history, Black art and provide programs that seek to uplift and educate communities of color — all for free.

“It just represents, again, a milestone and progress,” said Barbara Welch, a member of the NIA Centre’s board of directors.

The leadership at the Nia Centre encourages the community to also become members. In doing so, they have the green light to rent out the center for events or even gather there for work.

“We hope to not only attract residents from the Grand Rapids area, but the region,” Welch said.

As organizers prepare for their invite-only grand opening from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday evening, they carry with them the pride and joy of creating a place that will serve future generations.

“It will be the best that Grand Rapids can offer,” Upton said.

The leadership at NIA said their facility is only temporary. They have plans to announce a permanent location in the near future.

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