MLK Reflection Site Opens Downtown



Wrapping up a week of commemorative events in Memphis, Friday the city unveiled a new reflection site here dedicated to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Doug McGowen, the city’s chief operating officer called the opening of the site on the northwest corner of MLK and Second a “magnificent ending to a magnificent week in Memphis.”

“If you weren’t inspired by this week, I’m not sure what inspires you,” he said. “The areas surrounding the reflection site are truly hallowed ground.

“It is physical nexus of African-American culture, civil rights advocacy, entrepreneurship, and musical innovation. It is the place from which comes the rich heritage of Memphians that not only changed our city and our nation, but changed the world.”

The plaza features the ‘I Have Been to the Mountaintop’ sculpture that was created in the 1970s and previously sat mostly unnoticed on North Main.

It was done by Chicago-based sculptor Richard Hunt. He said Friday that the plaza, as well as the various tributes to King during the last week “gives us a sense that while there is more to be done, there are people who want to see it done.”

The site was designed by local architect group JPA, Inc., headed by John Jackson, who also provided the landscaping for the ‘I AM A MAN’ plaza that opened here Thursday. Jackson said both sites show the world that “we are on that road and we are paving it as we go.”

Funding for the site was provided in part by FedEx, Nike, and other sponsors, both private and public.

Shannon Brown, chief human resources and diversity officer for FedEx said the company knows the MLK reflection site “represents more than just a great work of art.”

“It’s a reflection of who we are and who we can be,” Brown said.

The plaza will better educate future generations of the city’s history, King, and why he came to Memphis, Mayor Jim Strickland said.

“We can reflect on the progress we’ve made and be inspired and challenged to fulfill his vision of America should be,” he said.

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