Celebrating Juneteenth in Cleveland's African American Cultural Garden
On Saturday, June 16, we started our day off by attending the opening ceremonies of the Juneteenth celebration that took place at the African American Cultural Garden on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. This gathering was organized by the Association of African American Cultural Gardens (AAACG).
It was written in the program notes that "Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, in the State of Texas, the news that the war had ended and the enslaved were now free was announced."
It was also written that "Juneteenth is a reminder of our Past, Present, and Future as represented in the African American Cultural Gardens design. Phase one; the Door of No Return is honoring our forefathers who were enslaved and taken from the western shores of Africa. Building the Present and Future Pavilions will complete the design."
The Emcee was Mr. Kevin "MC Chill" Heard, who said that this coming together was the result of a lot of work and a lot of contributions from volunteers. He also said that its purposes were to have a good time and to pass on information as to plans and financing of the second and third stages of the Garden.
Mr. Carl Ewing, President of the AAACG, spoke to us for a few minutes and made it a point to thank Cuyahoga County Councilperson Yvonne Conwell and Cleveland City Councilperson Kevin Conwell for doing so much to support this event. He went on to say that just as it takes a village to raise a child, all of us must work together to raise the funding and the level of community support required to complete all phases of the Garden by 2020 as planned, and he was confident that this goal could be accomplished.
The next speaker was Mr. Prester Pickett, MFA, Cleveland State University Coordinator of Howard A. Mims African-American Cultural Center, who spoke of the AAACG's Sow a Seed campaign to raise the necessary monies to support the Garden and its completion. He did this in the form of a parable about the potential yield of one seed; if planted and tended properly this seed could produce an abundance of fruit and there was no better place to plant the seed than in the African American Cultural Garden.
Mr. Pickett went on to say that on this day we should also take advantage of the opportunity to honor our ancestors because, as he reminded us, some day we ourselves will be ancestors, thus it is our job to guide the next generation as it progresses forward.
Margaret W. Wong & Associates LLC