Georgia is preparing to unveil the first statue of Martin Luther King Jr. on the statehouse grounds more than two years after Gov. Nathan Deal first announced the project.
Deal’s office sent out an invitation over the weekend for an Aug. 28 ceremony to lift the curtain on the long-awaited statue. It’s been a long time coming.
First the plans to honor the civil rights legend at the state Capitol stalled over negotiations with the King estate. Then they were in limbo when the original sculptor, Andy Davis, died after his motorcycle was hit by a pickup truck.
A new sculptor, Atlanta artist Martin Dawe, was tapped in June 2016, and state officials lined up corporate sponsors to pick up part of the tab.
The statue is wrapped in political symbolism. After Deal signed an order in 2013 to remove a statue of Tom Watson, a segregationist U.S. Senator known for his racist attacks on blacks, several Democratic leaders pushed him to replace it with a statue of King. Right now, King’s physical presence at the statehouse is now limited to an oil portrait that’s flanked by a biographical display.
It’s unclear exactly where the King statue will stand, but a likely spot could be the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Capitol Avenue, a short walk from the new Liberty Plaza.