Fundraiser benefits the completion of the Cleveland African-American Cultural Garden

Fundraiser benefits the completion of the Cleveland African-American Cultural Garden
Garden keeper standing in the Door of No Return (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - For more than 100 years, Cleveland’s Cultural Gardens have celebrated the city’s unique diversity with beautiful green spaces along Martin Luther King Drive.

A benefit was held Saturday night to help complete one of the gardens that has been on the drawing board for a long time.

Garden keeper Gwenda Horton said, “This is the greatest thing that could happen to us.”

A rendering of what it will look like when it’s completed can be found on YouTube.

In order to move the process along, a gala at the Global Center for Health Innovation was held to help raise awareness and funds.

19 News stopped by the site Saturday afternoon for a look at what’s already in place.

Horton, who lives right across from the garden, maintains it.

For her, it’s a labor of love.

“My husband died last year. In October, three days from now, will be his anniversary. The garden has kept me busy and kept my mind focused on life, but it has been a blessing the garden has helped me get through.”

There’s more that needs to be done to finish and that’s why about 200 people, mostly African Americans, gathered to push forward to finish the next phases.

What’s going is a very fitting testament to the contributions Cleveland’s black community has made.

“This is the passage way of our garden and the people in the community love it and they help me the best they can to keep it up,” Horton said.

It has been a project in the making for a long time, and she and many others are working to complete it sooner rather than later.

The city has given so much to the nation and the hope is that by 2020, if not sooner, it will celebrate the completion of this important project and the African American Cultural Garden will be realized.

Cleveland African American Cultural Gardens Association President Carl Ewing said, “We are the majority, minority in the city of Cleveland. I think it’s only right that we should have our rightful place in the City of Cleveland on what I call the Ambassador Lane, 890 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.”

You can access it from Wheelock Road, just off of St. Clair.

To help the stature of the effort, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Melody Stewart, the first African American woman elected to the state’s high court, was the keynote speaker at this gala.

The garden holds a special meaning for her.

“The African American Cultural Gardens will mean a lot to the community. I can remember going back and forth years when I was a kid and saying, why don’t we have one, where’s ours or why isn’t it as nice as some of the marble ones and the flower, plants growing. So, it’s good that we’re finally getting ours established,” Stewart said.

Phase One of the project has been completed at a cost of $650,000. The total when it’s all said and done will top out at around $3 million.

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