Boston calling for artists to help create MLK memorial

The city of Boston is building a memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, and they need artists to submit their ideas.
mlk, martin luther king jr
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with his wife Coretta Scott King and their first child Yolanda in May 1956. Photo: Getty Images

Calling all artists: Boston is looking for someone to create a memorial to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King.

 

Mayor Marty Walsh announced in September that he would work with entrepreneur Paul English to build a statue honoring Dr. King, and on Monday, Walsh officially released a Request for Qualifications in order to find an artist to create the monument.

 

The memorial, which does not yet have a set location, will be a collaboration between Walsh, the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, the Boston Art Commission and MLK Boston, a nonprofit founded by English.

 

"A memorial honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King will stand as a symbol of our commitment to fulfilling Dr. King's dream each and every day," Walsh said in a statement.

 

King attended Boston University in the early 1950s, which is where he became “Dr. King,” the school notes, when he earned his Ph.D. in systematic theology. King also met his wife Coretta in Boston; Coretta was an activist and a prominent figure in the civil rights movement who studied at the New England Conservatory of Music.

"From their education in Boston, to Dr. King's time preaching at Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury, to his march to the Boston Common, the Kings' footprints left a remarkable impression on the City of Boston and its people,” Walsh continued. “This memorial will be a great way to recognize their influence on the city and to emphasize our continued effort to make Boston a place where all people have equal opportunities."

English, who also founded Kayak.com, created the nonprofit MLK Boston in order to make the memorial a reality, as well as to sponsor local events and discussions that highlight King’s philosophies.

"As someone who grew up in Boston, I was always aware of Dr. King's work and still look to his words for inspiration today," English said in a statement. "I am delighted to participate on a team from across the city to memorialize his work, and to think about what he would be working on if he were still with us."

Along with honoring the Kings’ important past work, the memorial is meant to be a call to action, English said, for people to face the current racial inequalities, discrimination and other social issues that still plague our communities.

“Why Now? A King memorial in Boston seems overdue,” the MLK Boston website states. “Today, the issues we confront as a nation — including enduring economic inequalities, labor rights, racial discrimination and injustice, provocations of white nationalists, issues of just war and fragile peace, and questions of immigration and nativism — make Dr. King’s words and deeds as urgent and relevant as they were in the past.”

The Request for Qualifications is open to international artists, architects, design teams and more, with the city encouraging artists from the Boston area to apply. The deadline is midnight on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2017. Five finalists will receive a $5,000 stipend to develop design proposals.

If you’re not an artist but still want to be a part of this memorial, you’ll have the chance to share your thoughts and ideas at a community meeting. MLK Boston is hosting the meeting on Jan. 8, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. in the Piemonte Room on the fifth floor of Boston City Hall. For more information on the memorial, visit mlkboston.org

 
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