The public is invited to join the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Advisory Council, and public officials at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, 4055 Nicollet Ave. S. on August 28th to celebrate the unveiling of the MLK Memorial in Washington, DC and the local kick off to bring Dr. King’s legacy to the park.
The event will take place from 2:00 to 5:00 pm and includes the re-dedication of Freedom Form #2, a sculpture donated by New York artist Daniel LaRue Johnson that was originally dedicated to honor Dr. King in the park in 1970. The re-dedication program is scheduled to begin at 2:45 pm. Mr. Johnson will be a special guest at the event thanks to the generosity of Mr. Roderic Southall of Obsidian Arts and Ms. Roxanne Givens, Executive Director of the African American Museum and Cultural Center, scheduled to open in September 2011. The afternoon will include speakers, musical entertainment, storyteller, spoken word and refreshments
In response to the community’s concerns that the vision of Dr. King was lacking at the park in his name and that the Freedom Form #2 sculpture dedicated in his honor was moved from its original location, the Park Board appointed former Park Superintendent and Commissioner Mary Merrill Anderson to facilitate an Advisory Task Force to make recommendations to the Park Board.
MARY MERRILL ANDERSON: “We renamed the park in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr but we never really let the park be the place where all of his philosophy and his approach to life, all of the things that we honor in him are expressed in the environment in the park, the architecture in the park and the way that the program is delivered there.”
In May, the Park Board unanimously approved Phase 1 of the Task Force recommendations which allotted funds for the restoration and relocation of the Freedom Form #2 sculpture to its original site and the creation of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Council to raise $1.6 million for Phase 2 recommendations. The Phase 2 plans recommended by the Task Force include an outdoor amphitheater, improved signage, peace gardens and historical interpretive markers.
PARK BOARD PRESIDENT JOHN ERWIN: “The Park Board unanimously voted to accept the recommendations of the community members and we applaud them for engaging in difficult conversations about race that reflected in recommendations that honor Dr. King, that have broad community support and that improve the park for all residents. We support the efforts of the Dr. King Legacy Council to bring Dr. King’s vision of peace and equality to the park in spirit, practice and design.”
Off site parking will be available at McKnight Early Childhood Center at 4225 3rd Ave South. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will provide busing to shuttle attendees to the park event.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park was renamed from Nicollet Field in 1968 to Dr. Martin Luther King Park to honor the civil rights leader who was assassinated earlier that year. Based on recommendations by the Advisory Task Force, the name of the park is now Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park, ensuring the legacy of Dr. King will be preserved. The park is a great asset to the community, offering a full menu of park and recreation programs and services. Amenities include a year-round staffed recreation center (with gym, meeting rooms, kiln, kitchen, and lounge area), basketball court for pickup games or organized programs and a well used playground and wading pool. In addition to the winding pathways and picnic areas throughout the park, a regulation baseball field and two softball fields are also available for leagues and programs offered through the Park Board. More information on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Park can be found on the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board website at www.minneapolisparks.org.