Editor's note: Since this article was published, Sunday's dedication of the Washington, D.C. memorial to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King has been postponed due to Hurricane Irene.
“If there ever was a time to preserve the freedom of everybody, this is the time,” said Virginia Richardson.
On Sunday, there will be a groundbreaking ceremony re-dedicating the sculpture, called Freedom Form #2, which was donated to the park in 1970 to comemorate the life, work, and death of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board recently voted to move the sculpture to a more prominent place in the park named after the slain civil rights leader.
A Year Of Controversy
Richardson, widow of the late former president of the Minneapolis NAACP Samuel Richardson, said the past year has been much more emotional for her than she thought it would be.
Ever since she and others, particularly elders in the African American community, learned that an off-leash area was planned for the park, there was much turmoil when a conflict arose between those that wanted a dog park in the area, and those that thought it would be disrespectful to Dr. King’s legacy.
This spring, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Committee became a permanent advisory committee. Their recommendations included moving the Freedom Form #2 sculpture to its original location as well as cleaning and restoring the sculpture.
According to former Park Board member Mary Merrill Anderson, plans for the area could include adding benches inscribed with quotes from Dr. King surrounding the sculpture and new new landscaping in the coming years, as resources allow.
Sunday’s celebration at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Park on Sunday will run from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. From 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. there will be drumming by the Sabathanites, a drum corp that played at the original dedication ceremony, a drum circle and African Dance by We Win Institute, the Deliverance Youth Choir, a spoken word performance by Mama Mosaic Theater and Storyteller Nothando Zulu. From 2:45-4:30 there will an official re-dedication program with remarks by community, city, and state leaders, followed by a short reception.
The event coincides with the opening weekend of the National Monument dedicated to Dr. King in Washington D.C. Richardson said she feels it’s “icing on the cake” to have the two celebrations coincide, allowing Minneapolis to celebrate Dr. King and what he stood for.
“Frankly we’ve taken our eyes off the prize. We need to keep watch,” she said.
“This rededication we’re having on Sunday is an opportunity for us as a community together under the philosophy and vision of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King,” said Anderson, the former Park Board Commissioner. “It’s helping to heal the riff that truly exists in our community. It took this long year to really understand the real riff that exists. Sometime we have difficulty, sometimes we have a hard time understanding what each other are saying, but this process has helped us get to know each other a little better.”