Robert Madison, Ohio's first African-American architect, among local heroes honored at Cleveland Public Library

Posted at 12:12 PM, Jan 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-20 18:26:11-05

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Public Library honored 150 people for their contributions to their neighborhoods during its 35th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Ceremony. From teachers and students to advocates and community members, they were among the unsung heroes who are sometimes forgotten in the community.

Robert Gatewood was among one of the heroes honored for his work in Cleveland's Collinwood neighborhood. He created Gatewood Workshare, a space for the community to grow a business and celebrate with family.

"The only thing that stops us, typically, is access and belief. If you believe, and then you have access to the tools you need, you pretty much can accomplish anything you want," said Gatewood.

Since Gatewood opened the space in 2017, several businesses have opened in the area.

Sharing that same vision to help the community, Robert Madison received the 2020 Cleveland Public Library Drum Major for Change Award.

As the first African American architect in Ohio, Madison designed building around the world for decades.

"I was the first African American architect to be registered in the state of Ohio. I was the first one to open an office and practice," he said.

Madison, who is now 96, retired four years ago. He said his name is on about 300 buildings all over the world.

While there are buildings that tell a lot about Cleveland's past, the city's green space, or lack thereof, has become Dan Leamon's mission.

Leamon is working to replace what is lost. For the last six years, he has been planting trees across Cleveland.

"Our tree canopy is just under 20%," he said.

Leamon said it will take planting 50,000 trees over the next 20 years to double that.

He took a tree stewardship class to learn how to properly plant them and care for them. He is an integral part of the Tremont Gardeners group, and he maintains a garden at the corner of Wade Ave. and W 25th Street