Huntington Beach clarifies its stance, says it will recognize Black History Month, other cultural events

Boy Scouts carry an American flag in the Huntington Beach Fourth of July parade.
Pacifica District Huntington Beach Troop 1 Boy Scouts carry an American flag as they march in this year’s Huntington Beach Fourth of July parade.
(File Photo)

Huntington Beach officials said Friday the city will recognize Black History Month, Women’s History Month and other cultural observances in 2024, despite the City Council seemingly voting to the contrary earlier in the week.

The council passed an item 4-3 on Tuesday night to institute a 12-month calendar that will see each month dedicated to a specific theme. The language of the agenda item stated that any previous monthly themes or celebrations approved by earlier City Councils would be repealed and superseded.

Councilman Casey McKeon, the author of the item, indicated during the meeting that the city would not celebrate Black History Month in 2024, though it could be brought back to the calendar in future years. This came in response to a direct question from Councilman Dan Kalmick.


But Huntington Beach public affairs manager Jennifer Carey called that a “miscommunication” on Friday. She released the calendar for the first quarter of 2024, which included the approved themes of “Founders’ Legacy — Celebrating Huntington Beach’s Origins” for January, “We Love Our Libraries — Huntington Beach’s commitment to books, reading and learning” for February and “California’s History — Before statehood to now, and what it means to be a Charter City” for March.

However, Black History Month and Women’s History Month are also listed for February and March, respectively.

“The existing acknowledgments, tributes, holidays, cultural heritage months that we have already been acknowledging will still be acknowledged,” Carey said. “It’s just that the content that will be continuously distributed throughout the month will be related to that overarching, celebratory theme. I think there was, and understandably so, confusion in regard to the item. [It was discussed] that we have this one celebration and that’s it, and that’s simply not the case.”

Carey said there will be a cohesive effort that her office would oversee in collaboration with a resident committee that will be established to decide themes for 2025 and future years.

McKeon said Friday that his agenda item was “misinterpreted in a way,” adding that it was a pilot program that will be continue to be fine-tuned.

“When I kept saying nothing precludes [Black History Month] from happening in the future, what I was referring to was the overarching theme of the month,” McKeon said. “It doesn’t mean that we can’t acknowledge Black history and those other themes within the month, but the overarching, celebratory theme of the month needs to be in the calendar. I’m trying to condense this down.

“I think there’s like 30-plus monthly themes that different departments have. So the genesis of this was to make it more meaningful and thoughtful, with all of the departments on the same page.”

But Kalmick wasn’t buying the claim that the dialogue from the dais was simply misunderstood.

“How could it have been a miscommunication?” Kalmick said Friday. “The video’s clear, the action agenda is clear. We explicitly asked, ‘Are we going to be celebrating this anymore?’ and they said, ‘No.’ So I don’t know how staff is managing that ... We asked [McKeon] four different ways, ‘Does this mean we’re not going to celebrate this?’

“You can’t just say, ‘No, we’re not going to do that’ without bringing it back to a vote of the council. If Casey thought it was something different, that’s not the staff direction and the understanding I had. They’re going to have to bring it back [to the City Council], or it’s illegal.”