Recently, The King Center and Hulu hosted a ceremony to unveil The Coretta Scott King Monument and The Coretta Scott King Peace and Meditation Garden on The King Center’s campus in Atlanta. On what would have been Mrs. King’s 96th birthday, family and friends gathered for a morning of celebration and reflection, including remarks by Dr. Bernice A. King, The King Center’s CEO, the monument’s artist Saya Woolfalk, and poet laureate Pearl Cleage, as well as performances by Victory Brinker (America’s Got Talent) and Tony and two-time Grammy Award Winner Jennifer Holliday.
A few years ago, after learning that less than 8% of all public statues in the US are of women, Hulu commissioned artist Saya Woolfalk to create three new public monuments representing the contributions of historic women – Coretta Scott King in Atlanta, Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Miami, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Los Angeles – to help bridge the gender gap in public art. Over the past couple of years, the team at Hulu, Saya, city officials in Atlanta, Miami, and Los Angeles, and estate representatives worked tirelessly to bring these monuments to life. “We could not be more thrilled to see the result of these collaborations come to life and to share it with you. Above all, we are so excited for the future generations of young girls and women who will have the chance to learn about those who paved the way for them, open doors, shattered glass ceilings and whose impact and legacy are truly monumental,” said Vivi Nguyen, Hulu’s Director of Creative Operations and Culture.
The Coretta Scott King monument features a lectern in the center of the structure, a nod to the way that Mrs. King was often depicted – photographed behind a podium, speaking to large crowds of people. A live microphone placed within the lectern allows visitors to actively participate in the work and speak their own commitment to civil rights and nonviolence. Visitors will be surrounded by a rose pattern, inspired by the Coretta Scott King rose, a hybrid that was named for her. Around the dome are the words: EMPATHY, CHANGE, FREEDOM, JUSTICE, PEACE, COMPASSION, LIBERTY, RIGHTS, TRUTH, and COMMUNITY. A quote from Mrs. King in prominently printed inside: “Women, If The Soul Of The Nation Is To Be Saved, I Believe That You Must Become Its Soul.”
“Today’s dedication started with a vision which invited an artist to imagine and bring to life a monument followed by ideas, partnerships, donations, connections, conversations, contributions, and planning,” Dr. Bernice A. King said. “We are grateful for the vision of Hulu, Noun, the artistic genius of Saya Woolfalk, who donated the monument to the city of Atlanta, the leadership of former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, the contributions of the city of Atlanta and Mayor Andre Dickens, Governor Brian Kemp and the Georgia General Assembly, and of course the Home Depot Foundation for sponsoring, designing, and installing our new Coretta Scott King Peace and Meditation Garden where the monument is located,” she added.
Dr Bernice A. King praised her mother during the ceremony for her relentless, life-long commitment to creating the Beloved Community when others sought to destroy, discredit, deny, and denounce Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s works – classifying in a 1967 national poll as one of the most hated men in America. “My mom, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, with a clear vision from God, set out to architect a legacy and build the largest social change brand in the world amidst chauvinistic pronouncements to stay at home, raise your children, and leave the work to us men. Mrs. Coretta Scott King not only continued her God-given assignment but with faith and grace, elegance and strategy, intention and love, she focused her energy and attention on helping to raise a nation on the brink of self-destruction while also raising her four children to not harbor hate, bitterness, and resentment but to let love lead in creating a world where justice, freedom, equality, and peace are a reality for all of God’s children,” The King Center’s CEO said.
The monuments for Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in Miami and Los Angeles respectively, will be unveiled in the coming months and are similarly designed, meant to embody the spirit and ideals of each woman, rather than a physical portrayal of their likeness.