Ground broke Monday on the I Am A Man commemorative plaza downtown, set to open by April 2018 in time for the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s death.
The $1.5 million plaza will be located on the corner of Hernando and Pontotoc next to Clayborn Temple, a gathering place for sanitation workers and King before the 1968 march and now a Civil Rights Movement landmark.
The project, spearheaded by the city and UrbanArts Commission, will be led and designed by local landscape architect John Jackson of JPA, Inc, as well as Cliff Garten of Cliff Garten Studio in California. Poet and spoken word artist Steve Fox wrote the text that will be etched in the plaza's stone sculpture.
The interactive plaza, featuring the “I Am A Man” slogan, will aim to “invite all people to a peaceful, interactive, and educational experience that supports the advancement of equity, justice and positive social change.”
The goal of the space is to acknowledge the historical significance of Memphis, the sanitation workers' strike, and King in the Civil Rights Movement, while providing visitors with the ability to interact with art, creating an experience residents and tourists will want to revisit, and inspiring future generations to stand up for social justice and positive change.
When complete, the plaza will be a focal point of the city-wide commemoration in April.