King memorial a dream for AACC

Committee trying to raise $250,000 for civil rights leader's statue


Several Anne Arundel County community organizations have been celebrating the life and accomplishments of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. for 25 years. But this year, they've decided that a more permanent honor for the civil rights leader is in order.

Members of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Fund Committee are trying to raise $250,000 to erect a more-than-9-foot-tall bronze sculpture and memorial to King on the campus of Anne Arundel Community College, said Carl O. Snowden, committee chairman.

"There's no official memorial to Dr. King in the state of Maryland. What you have in Baltimore city is a boulevard named after Dr. King, and in the city of Annapolis, a small plaque at the statehouse," Snowden said. "We believe that because of the contributions he made not only to the nation but to the world, we should have a more fitting memorial."

The committee has tapped Denver sculptor Ed Dwight, who created the Alex Haley memorial on the City Dock, to also create the King tribute.

Dwight said he envisions a statue of King holding a book or Bible in one hand and gesturing with the other. Behind the sculpture, he said, would be a wall with five bronze panels with quotes from King and information about his life. Benches also would be included with the piece, so that people could sit while learning about King and his contributions, Dwight said.

Dwight added that he hopes the memorial will be more than just a statue, but also a source of education. "Putting up a sculpture without context would just be ridiculous," he said.

Committee members scouted a site on the community college campus - between the fine arts and science buildings - but it has yet to be approved by the school's Board of Trustees. The board has voted to approve placing the memorial on campus, but the details still have to be discussed, a college spokeswoman said.

"All of the logistics still have to be worked out. Everything should be in writing. Everyone needs to agree on the site, what amount of money needs to come in, how much for maintenance and who will take care of it - all those details," said Linda Schulte, director of public relations and marketing. She said it could take as long as a month for that to happen.

In the meantime, the committee is accepting pledges for the memorial and organizing fundraisers.

Already, Denny's Corp. has pledged $15,000 and county school board President Konrad Wayson has personally pledged $10,000, Snowden said.

The school district will be working with the committee on a "Pennies for King" campaign, Snowden said, so that elementary school pupils can contribute. On Jan. 19, King's birthday, the committee will ask local churches to take up a special collection for the memorial.

"We want the memorial to be paid for in the private sector by volunteers throughout the state," Snowden said.

The committee hopes the sculpture will be completed by April 4, 2006, the anniversary of King's assassination.

Contributions may be sent to: The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 371, Annapolis, 21204.

For information about an Oct. 6 fundraiser for the memorial, call 410-410-267-7723.

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