The Association of African American Cultural Gardens





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The Association of African American Cultural Gardens





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The Association of African American Cultural Gardens provides
unique educational experiences in a beautiful, inclusive atmosphere where individuals of all ages and backgrounds can interact in a
space relevant to African American history.





We want to build on a legacy defined years ago by finishing the African American Cultural Garden...


Cleveland is very rich in African American history. But, because symbols of our past have
been destroyed, the telling of our story is incomplete. And this becomes evident as we look
at the current state of the African American Cultural Garden.


The African American Cultural Garden is located in the cultural center of Cleveland, Ohio. It is
one of the 36 cultural gardens within the Cleveland Federation of Cultural Gardens, representing
the diversity of the city and the brotherhood that prevails.


Over the past 100 years, the ethnic groups making up the city of Cleveland have built monuments showcasing their culture. Some are massive and picturesque yet we are still in the process of completing the African American Cultural Garden. Why?

To best answer that question, let’s consider our slogan, what the
African American Cultural Garden represents.


“We learn from our Past, as we live in the Present, to secure our Future.”




In 1969, Cuyahoga Community College Professor Booker Tall started on an eight-year journey to
claim a site for the African American Cultural Garden, within the Cleveland Cultural Garden
Federation grounds.


Mr. Tall enlisted the support of Clarence Fitch, Carol Bugg, Bob Render, Glen Brackens and
the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life & History. They waged a campaign in the
media, the community and throughout the city of Cleveland.


Their efforts resulted in the dedication, by then Mayor George Voinovich, of a four-acre site
on October 23, 1977. This prominent location sits on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive at the
St. Clair exit.


Shortly after, Mr. Tall passed away. The momentum died and the Association African American
Cultural Gardens (AAACG) remained dormant for many years, decades. It was not until 2002 that
Cordell Edge, a longtime Glenville resident, was appointed to engage a committee to cultivate
and renew interest in this endeavor. With research, commitment and education, Edge set the
path to celebrate the development and installation of the current AAACG site.


Under new leadership, this journey continues...


In 2012, Carl S. Ewing became the president of The Association of African American Cultural
Gardens and secured its current non-profit status. Mr. Ewing worked with Cleveland Mayor
Frank G. Jackson, who established a task force. The task force commissioned architect
W. Daniel Bickerstaff II, of Ubiquitous Design, LTD, to design a structure for “The Garden” and
raise the initial funds for the completion of Phase 1.

The African American Garden will
be developed as the Past,
Present and Future Pavilions.


The Association of American American Cultural Gardens is now working to secure

$2.6 million
for the completion of Phases 2 and 3.

W. Daniel Bickerstaff II

Founder/Principal Architect

Ubiquitous Design, LTD


Carl S. Ewing, President

The Association of The African American Cultural Gardens


phase 2: the future Pavilion

The Future Pavilion responds to our need and desire for reflection and hope through the re-introduction of a fountain which counterbalances
and pays respect to the passive symbolism of the past pavilion. The geyser effect of the fountain speaks to possessing a sense of pride and
power and that of setting our own path and agenda while defying all odds.




phase 1: The Past Pavilion (cOMPLETE)

Dedicated in 2016, The Past Pavilion translates the experience of the initial aspects of the “Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade’ through an reinterpretation of the corridors, dungeons and ultimately the “Doorway of No Return” of the slave castles located along the western coast of Africa. The Garden reflects these brutal conditions and despair with its polished black granite sculptural walls, which creates a sensation of compression, tension and apprehension.
The "Doorway of No Return" is the sandstone portal which personifies fear of the unknown transition. The passive infinity fountain echoes the illusionary tranquility of the Atlantic Ocean as seen through the actual "Doorway of No Return." The Middle Passage of the Past Pavilion alludes to the sense
of going down into the bowels of the slave ships.


phase 3: the PRESENT Pavilion


The Present Pavilion evokes the sense of emergence. The sculptural form emerges from the site echoing our emergence as a people in this country despite the myriad of challenges past, present and future and a spirit that could not be broken. African Americans have risen as leaders in education, science, medicine, sports, even President of this great country and much more. The black granite platform of The Present Pavilion will have a multipurpose use, amenable to special events, weddings, lectures, educational and social events. The features from the Present Pavilion to the Future Pavilion pay homage
to Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple in Egypt. The elements are as rich as the soil of our homeland.

Below are renderings of what the completed African American Cultural Garden structure will look like.







We need your help. Join us today by sowing a
seed and watching it grow into a completed
African American Cultural Garden site. Make
a one-time or monthly recurring donation to
see this beautiful rendering become a
breathtaking reality.



Thank you for your generous support





Visit us

MLK Drive @ The St. Clair Exit Cleveland, Ohio 44108

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 20237

Cleveland, Ohio 44120

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