Aug. 28 (UPI) — As statues honoring Confederate leaders come down across the United States, a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be unveiled Monday in downtown Atlanta.
The 8-foot-tall bronze statue will be situated at the state Capitol, grounds dominated by figures from Georgia’s Confederate and segregationist history. Gov. Nathan Deal will be joined by members of the King family, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, state Rep. Calvin Smyre, Capitol Arts Standards Commission members and other dignitaries at the unveiling.
The sculpture will be visible for up to two blocks down the street named for the civil rights leader, who was assassinated in 1968. The unveiling comes on the 54th anniversary of King’s celebrated “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, regarded historically as a galvanizing moment in the civil rights movement; the date was chosen prior to recent violence in Charlottesville, Va., and the move to take down Confederate monuments.
“He’s gazing slightly toward MLK Boulevard,” sculptor Martin Dawe told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution of the statue. “You make people smile not by the mouth but by the eyes, so I have a slight glimmer that I hope comes through.”
The statue of King will also be looking in the direction of his boyhood home, the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where his father served as pastor, and his burial site.
On Saturday a new monument was dedicated to unknown Confederate war dead in Crenshaw County, Ala. The small stone monument is part of a park on private land featuring other memorial markers, replica cannons and flagpoles flying the Confederate battle flag and other emblems.