NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk Botanical Garden is hosting an event to honor the 220 African Americans who first planted the Garden more than 80 years ago.
The 12th annual Works Progress Administration (WPA) Garden Heritage Day Celebration is set for Sunday, Oct. 3, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public.
10 On Your Side’s Anita Blanton will serve as Mistress of Ceremonies for the event which will feature a reading of known WPA worker names.
This year’s keynote speaker will be Dr. Janice Underwood, Ph.D. who was appointed as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s first cabinet-level Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) by Gov. Ralph Northam.
The event will honor two community Groundbreakers – Former NASA Scientist, the late Katherine Johnson and Norfolk Botanical Garden’s Board of Directors Chair, Clenise Platt. Platt is the first African American to hold the position since the board was created.
In 1938, a group of more than 200 African American women and 20 African American men were assigned to create the Norfolk Botanical Garden. They were paid 25 cents an hour.
In just one year, the Garden had thousands of azaleas, rhododendrons, shrubs and trees. However, the workers did not feel welcome to enjoy the garden they created due to racial segregation.
By 1941, the Garden had nearly five thousand azaleas, and seventy-five landscaped acres that were encompassed by five miles of walking trails.
For more information regarding the event, click here.