Martin Luther King, Jr. is synonymous with the Civil Rights Movement. Therefore, when Shalkey & Team was asked to work with artist Ed Dwight to further develop the design for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in City Park, it was important to not only understand the man but also his contribution to the civil rights movement. The compass star motif in the plaza pavement is used as a metaphor to symbolize the moral compass that he brought to the movement. The neo-classical design of the pedestal on which the statue stands is intended to be on par with the monuments dedicated to our nation's forefathers on the Mall in Washington D.C.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - Beginning in 1955 with the Montgomery Bus Boycott until his assassination in 1968, Dr. King was the most renowned leader of the American Civil Rights Movement. Through powerful sermons and speeches, and by leading non-violent demonstrations, protests and marches, he challenged a nation to examine its moral conscience. He elevated the American dream to include all people.
Frederick Douglass - A former slave, Frederick Douglas became one of the greatest figures in the 19th Century. Douglass sought to change the course of American social development to embrace the solid principle that all American people ought to be free and equal. An abolitionist, journalist, distinguished orator, and diplomat in the mid to late 1800’s, his writings inspired Dr. King.
[Mohandas] Mahatma Gandhi - As the leader of India’s struggle to free itself from British colonialism, Mahatma Gandhi demonstrated to the world how people could embrace non-violence as an effective tool for positive change. His speeches and nonviolent actions over a twenty-year period lead to India’s independence in 1946. Dr. King applied Gandhi’s principles to the civil rights struggle in the United States to advance the non-violent resistance movement.
Sojourner Truth - A former slave, this black woman crusaded for the abolition of slavery and women’s rights. After the Civil War she continued lobbying, speaking for the equality of women, minorities and also for the delivery of promised property to Black soldiers of the war.
Rosa Parks - Acclaimed as the Mother of the modern civil rights movement, Ms. Parks was arrested in 1955 for refusing to give her seat to a white man on a public bus in segregated Montgomery, Alabama. This courageous act lead to a boycott lasting 381 days of the Montgomery public transportation system and the beginning of the modern peaceful protest movement.
Memorial Site - Surrounding the central statue are standing tablets upon which are engraved timelines in civil rights history in America and quotes from King’s speeches. Each tablet creates a small alcove for smaller statues representing phases in American black history. Benches are placed in front of the tablets. In the stone walkways, on the north is a bronze Liberty Bell; on the south is a bronze outline of a slave ship containing figures showing how the slaves where placed below deck. Small flowerbeds complete the site.
The Memorial was funded through a combination of Public and Private resources and was successfully constructed due to interagency cooperation. The Mayor’s Office and The Denver Art, Culture, and Film Foundation raised private donations for over half the cost. The City Council approved funds from the Capital Improvements Budget. The Parks and Recreation Department and the Department of Public Works (Street Construction Division and Wastewater Management) also contributed to construction costs and provided in-kind labor, equipment and materials. The memorial costs exceeded 1 million dollars and fund raising took over 3 years.
The 28-foot tall Memorial was designed and sculpted by the Internationally renowned sculptor, and Denver resident, Mr. Ed Dwight. [above excerpted from City of Denver Parks Department website]
The following article was from Jet magazine. "Relatives of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth gather at the recent unveiling of a $1.2 million memorial honoring the late leaders at Denver City Park. The bronze, 26-foot-high pedestal by sculptor Ed Dwight puts a 9-foot-8-inch high statue of King above the life-sized sculptures of Truth, Douglass, Mahatma Gandhi and Rosa Parks against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains.
"The mountains are symbolic of Martin Luther King Jr.'s struggle," said his son, Martin Luther King III, at the unveiling of the I Have A Dream monument. "The beauty of this memorial is that it not only pays tribute to him, but to so many others. When you put them together, it creates a wonderful opportunity for people to begin to know history and hopefully realize that all these individuals have given their lives in human service." The memorial was spearheaded by Mayor Wellington Webb and his wife, former state legislator Wilma Webb, who headed efforts in the 1980s to have Colorado declare Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a state holiday."