Wednesday, 4th October 2023

Statue, wreath laying, peace walk, concert to remember King

By Tope Templer Olaiya
04 April 2023   |   2:45 am
Today marks the 55th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. in the United States of America. In remembrance of King’s death, community leaders, politicians and clergymen will join together for a peace walk and a first view of the statue...

• Martin Luther King Jr. looks to God in new statue

Today marks the 55th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. in the United States of America. In remembrance of King’s death, community leaders, politicians and clergymen will join together for a peace walk and a first view of the statue, which was unveiled at the weekend and dedicated to the late civil rights leader commemorating a speech he gave prior to his assassination.

The statue was designed by artist Kathy Fincher, who co-sculptured it with Stan Mullins, and it was inspired directly by King’s last speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”

A large crowd turned out for the Saturday unveiling, which followed a peace walk and the presentation of the first recipients of the World Peace Revival Legacy Award. Former Atlanta mayor and U.N. ambassador Andrew Young — who was at King’s side after he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968 — presented the awards.

Bernice King, King’s daughter and CEO of the King Center, also spoke at the event, along with Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens. The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission however canceled their 2023 Commemorative Vigil scheduled for Tuesday due to the threat of severe weather. Following Friday’s storms, there is another chance of severe storms Tuesday and Wednesday with risks of tornadoes, damaging wind and hail.

The event was scheduled for Tuesday morning to honour the life and legacy of King. Officials are encouraging schools, students and organisations to honour King’s passing by assisting those impacted by last week’s tornado.

Kathy Fincher who has been working on King’s statue for years said it is the first to portray the civil rights leader and preacher wearing robes and holding a Bible. For Fincher, the design relies on King’s heavenward gaze, on the eyes that “have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,” as he said in his 1968 “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech.

Days before the statue’s unveiling in Atlanta, she removed a piece of clay and made some last-minute adjustments during the patina process so his eyes reflected the light.

“My idea was he would be on a mountaintop, with a Moses-type look, and he would be talking to God,” said the artist, who listened on repeat to the famous speech from the eve of King’s assassination.

“I designed it so his hands would be face up, so he’d be catching the light that was given to him, not sideways like he was preaching, and his eyes and head were raised up.”

The eight-foot, two-inch King monument takes its place among what will eventually be 18 statues of Georgia peacemakers at the Rodney Cook Sr. Peace Park in the Vine City neighborhood. The Peace Park opened two years ago—a reconstruction of Mims Park, the first integrated park in Atlanta. King stands atop a rock from Stone Mountain, the Confederate monument in Georgia referenced in his “I Have a Dream” speech.

This August will mark the 60th anniversary of King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. The Washington Chorus will commemorate the occasion with the special concert ‘Free at Last! A musical tribute to King’s legacy’ at the Kennedy Center on Tuesday, April 4, which is also the anniversary of his death.

“This anniversary is the 55th year of the assassination. I didn’t realise until a couple of weeks ago that it coincided with that, but the 60th anniversary for the speech is quite incredible because it is probably his most famous speech, the one that everybody references,” Kenneth Overton said.

The first half of the concert features “Scenes from the Life of a Martyr,” a 16-part oratorio by Undine Smith Moore, the granddaughter of slaves who grew up in Petersburg, Virginia, before studying music at Juilliard.

That the Nigerian judicial system, which remains the last resort for restoring confidence in the electoral process and correcting injustices, hear the calls for justice and discharge their duties without fear or favour.

That duty bearers, particularly state security and prosecutors, address the high level of hate speech threatening the peace and our social cohesion. The promoters of religious and/or ethnic based hate speech must be investigated, prosecuted and punished in line with the provisions of our laws in order to deter future promoters.

That allegations of malpractice and fraud by electoral officials on the national and state level be investigated and where appropriate, those found implicated prosecuted accordingly.

Finally, it said there is much room for improvement in our elections despite the laudable introductions to improve trust and credibility with Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) and INEC’s Result Viewing portal (IReV) and we encourage all Nigerians, in every way they can, to continue to demand the highest standards of equity and professionalism from duty bearers across all levels of government.

The 18 initial Advocates of the GoNigeria Movement are drawn from all the six geopolitical zones (three from each zone). They are: Atedo Peterside (Convener), ‘Yemi Adamolekun, Tomiwa Aladekomo, Osita Chidoka, Dike Chukwumerije, Folarin Falana (Falz), Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, Bishop Matthew Kukah, Hamzat Lawal, Nuruddeen Lemu, Ayisha Osori, Arunma Oteh, Muhammad Ali Pate, Dr. Tony Rapu, HH Muhammad Sanusi II, Dr. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, Ibrahim Dahiru Waziri and Aisha Yesufu.

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