$22M donated to Lee County Black History Society for a Black Culture Center

A donation to encourage others to give to a place that will be the home to black fellowship, entertainment, and culture.

On Wednesday, Joe North gave a donation to the Lee County Black History Society for the Black Cultural Center.

The donation will help towards a $22,000,000 plan for a three-story Black Culture Center in Clemente Park to spur development in the Dunbar area.

Inside the former Williams Academy, history was once again made.

Joe North’s law firm and family donated $100,000 to the Lee County Black History Society.

“The fact that we got a community leader born and raised here that step up and commit to this organization and his future. That’s amazing,” said Lee County Black History Society member, Charles Barnes.

“Over the years this community, my home, has supported me in ways that I could not have even imagined,” North explained.

But it was easy for North to imagine the benefits coming along. The dollars determine a dose of the enrichment of the Dunbar community. And they won’t go far from the former Williams Academy.

In Roberto Clemente Park, North’s donation kick-starts the fundraising for a new amphitheater, basketball courts, and soon a brand new culture center.

“It has an art gallery in it, it has also a conference room, meeting room, but also an auditorium that sits about 150 people where you can actually pull down screens and actually display plays that were written and directed by black artists,” Barnes said.

Helping to fulfill former Fort Myers council member Veronica Shoemaker’s dream.

According to Fort Myers City council member Teresa Watkins Brown, the city is going to do it’s share.

“In our capital improvement plan that we have, there is $11,000,000 set aside for this particular project,” Brown said.

That money gets the Black History Society past the halfway point of the money needed. The goal is to get other people and businesses involved in bringing the project to life.

“Without understanding black history, then we’re not able to fully understand the history of the entire community or the history of the entire county,” North said.

North believes they’ll get the basketball courts and amphitheater done in the next couple of years. But it will take approximately three to four years to complete the culture center.

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