When Mayor Marin J. Walsh announced on Wednesday that he’d support the commission of a Boston monument to Martin Luther King Jr., it was viewed by many as a welcome and much-needed civic development.
Now comes the hard part: Ensuring the piece pays proper tribute to the slain civil rights leader.
Paul English, an entrepreneur who has committed $1 million to the project, set the tone earlier this week when he said in an interview that he wanted the memorial to be “epic.” Asked Wednesday whether he has specific ideas for what he wants it to look like, English acknowledged that he did, but wanted to keep them to himself until the five-person committee had been formed to select an artist in order to avoid any bias.
As organizers get started, meanwhile, they’ll find plenty of previously erected King memorials around the country from which to glean inspiration.
From Roanoke to Jacksonville to Indianapolis, monuments, statues, and memorials have been constructed in King’s honor, all offering unique takes on his image, writings, and activism.
Here’s a look at five prominent King memorials across the United States.
Location: West Potomac Park
Artist: Lei Yixin
Dedication: Aug. 28, 2011
About: More than 900 entries were collected in the design competition before those behind the project settled on Lei in 2007. The 30-foot monument serves as a nod to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Lei produced 80 percent of the sculpture in his studio in China before finishing the remaining work on-site. Upon the work’s completion, King became the first African-American to be honored with a memorial on the National Mall. “The final design includes a massive carved mountain with a slice pulled out of it, symbolizing the ‘Stone of Hope’ being hewn from the ‘Mountain of Despair,’” according to theNational Park Service website.
Address: Georgia Capitol grounds
Artist: Martin Dawe
Dedication: Aug. 28, 2017
About: In 2014, Georgia governor Nathan Deal signed legislation that paved the way for the monument on State Capitol grounds. When the original sculptor, Andy Davis, was killed in a motorcycle accident, the committee behind the project tapped Dawe, a Boston University alumnus, to design the monument. The statue of King, which is 8 feet tall and depicts him carrying an overcoat and papers, was created using Georgia-sourced materials.
Location: Yerba Buena Gardens
Artist: Houston Conwill
Dedication: October 1993
About: A waterfall — 20 feet tall and 50 feet wide — welcomes visitors to what Yerba Buena Gardens calls the third-largest King memorial in the country, behind those in Washington and Atlanta. The waterfall is said to represent King’s vision of peace and unity, and behind it, a dozen glass panels are inscribed with King’s “inspiring words, poems, and images from the civil rights movement,” according tothe Gardens’ website.
Location: City Park
Artist: Ed Dwight
Dedication: June 2002
About: Commissioned by the city of Denver, the statue is composed of granite and cast bronze. According to Dwight, it is meant to depict King, who occupies the primary pedestal, standing atop the shoulders of Gandhi, Frederick Douglass, Rosa Parks, and Sojourner Truth — all of whom are also depicted in bronze.
Location: University of Texas-Austin
Artists: Jeffrey Varilla and Anna Koh-Varilla
Dedication: September 1999
About: When the 12-foot bronze statue of King was erected nearly 20 years ago, it was the result of a 12-year effort. It also marked the first statue of an African-American in the campus’s then 116-year history. The statue depicts King in a scholar’s robe, arm outstretched, and its creators told reporters at the time that they hoped it would serve as a beacon to bring people together.Dugan Arnett can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.