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Martin Luther King Jr. statues have been in the news a bit recently. The unveiling in Boston last month of a statue honoring MLK and Coretta Scott King was met with decidedly mixed reviews. An abstract piece, the statue was meant to show the love and bond between the couple but it might have been a little too abstract for some.
Here in Atlanta, the next MLK statue unveiling is likely to receive a different reception. The statue, which will be unveiled in April at Rodney Mims Cook Sr. Peace Park in Vine City, depicts Dr. King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, in a robe, with a hand raised and holding a Bible. Clyde Strickland, a businessman from Lawrenceville, and his wife Sandra commissioned the statue.
The unveiling will be a part of the World Peace Revival’s Peace Walk, in partnership with the King Center on April 1. The event will be a full day of honoring Dr. King’s legacy, with the grand finale being the statue unveiling.
“This is about world peace. It is about bringing the world together to talk about loving one another,” said Strickland.
Athens artist Stan Mullins and Duluth artist Kathy Fincher are the lead sculptors on the project.
Commissioned by the National Monuments Foundation, Clyde and Sandra Strickland, Tim Minard, Dame Didi Wong and Social Investment Holdings, Inc. Minard, Wong and SIH are also sponsoring the statue’s India granite pedestal.
“Our main goal is not about us, it’s about you the viewer, and how you gain insight and inspiration by this piece,” said Mullins. “What I’m trying to convey is the person, the man, the portrait, those kinds of things, but also an emotion. It’s been such a neat adventure to become a part of the journey of this project.”
“I researched every monument ever made of Martin Luther King, very few showed him in a robe. Through my studies, I realized he was referred to as a Moses-type man – ‘Let my people go.’ I thought what if the doctorate robe were to melt into more of a pastor’s robe,” said Fincher. “The Bible looks like living water. His hand is meant to be not begging, but a gesture that catches the light with open palm, it’s a reception. He is receiving the Word, not preaching, he is receiving.”
The details on the statue are meticulous, from his necktie to his wedding ring, and even down to the famously sharper dresser King’s shoes.
World Peace Revival is a nonprofit movement built on prayers, kindness and unity, inspired by Dr. King. One of their biggest initiatives is #BillionPrayers, and they hope to inspire and remind the world of the power of prayer and kindness.
“The words of Martin Luther King can bind people of walks of life, all ages, all faiths, people from all over the world,” said Fincher.