Press Releases

Dublin Unveils MLK Monument Park

Article Date 05/03/2017

April 17th, 2107   Dublin, GA

Photograph by Randall Gearhart

On April 17th, Dublin revealed her new Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument Park in downtown. Located at the intersection of US Hwy. 441 and Church Street,the new park marks Dublin as the place where a fifteen year old Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his first public speech in 1944. The result of over three years’ work, the project garnered the support of over two hundred partners, donors, and contributors, and was as Lance Jones, city manager of The City of Dublin stated,” the biggest collaboration I’ve ever seen on a project.” Featuring a painted mural, gateway to Downtown Dublin signage, interior wall photomural, and an audio box featuring stories pertaining to the local Civil Rights Movement as well as a modern recitation of young Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech, the new park is set to serve as a place of inspiration and reflection.

Dublin photographer and graphic designer, Randall Gearhart captured with his photographs the peace that has been brought to all involved in building the park saying, “I am honored to have been asked to make a contribution to this project. My photomural of the interior of the First African Baptist Church will give future visitors to the MLK Monument Park a glimpse into the place where history was made. It is my hope and prayer that all who share this experience will be touched by the memory of an extraordinary man and his powerful message, a message that needs to be heard again, today.”

That message of hope carried throughout the day, with speeches from many of the project’s key partners. Representatives from Georgia Power, Fairview Park Hospital, Georgia Department of Transportation, and Georgia Department of Economic Development gathered, and celebrated with local businesses and donors. “From the start, Dublin knew this project was not just for her. We recognized the draw this project would have for the entire world, and we realized the responsibility and honor Dublin had in carrying the message that King brought to Dublin in 1944, a dream that from anger could come unity, from discussion could come love, and from hard work could come beauty. We have achieved more than a park. We have achieved a monument that drew people and built partnerships and will continue to grow Dublin,” said Rebecca McWilliam, Visit Dublin GA.

From the beginning, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Tourism Division has been a key partner, funding five Tourism Product Development grants for the project. ”This monument is going to be a primary draw for the Civil Rights Movement not only for Georgia, but for the country.” said Cindy Edison, Director of Tourism Product Development with GDEcD. “This monument represents the beginning of what shaped Martin Luther King, Jr.’s path that gave him the strength and courage that made him the leader of the Civil Rights Movement. Tourists will want to begin their Civil Rights journey by traveling to Dublin and standing where history happened. Not only will Dublin stand as a place in history, but will also see the economic benefit from having more visitors coming to see such an impressive monument to not only to MLK, Jr. but to all Civil Rights leaders of the past and to inspire those future leaders.”

Two of the projects grant funded by GDEcD were also unveiled during the ceremony: an audio tour sponsored by Fairview Park Hospital highlighting the stories behind sixteen sites around Downtown Dublin developed by Creative Productions and a new mobile app of Downtown Dublin’s historic walking tour featuring 71 buildings and locations and a wealth of historic photography from the archives of local historian Scott Thompson. Developed with the help of Populace, Inc., the app includes includes interactive features that allows users to customize their tour, post their experience to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and can be downloaded at the App Store at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/downtown-dublin-georgia-walking-tour/id1225482234?mt=8

YKK AP America Issues 5 for 5 Challenge

At the close of the reveal, Visit Dublin discussed the project’s next steps, and issued a call to the Dublin community’s leaders. Dubbed the 5 for 5 Challenge, Dublin company YKK AP America, manufacturer of commercial facades and residential windows and doors, was the first to sign onto this challenge.

Oliver Stepe, president of YKK AP America, urges the community to join in the challenge by matching its $5,000 donation to see the full vision of Dublin’s MLK Monument Park come to fulfillment. “The Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument Park is a true accomplishment and landmark for the community of Dublin,” said Stepe. “We are thrilled to be a part of the 5 For 5 Challenge and encourage our peers in the community to join us in bringing this important project to its final completion.”

Stepe added that if three more companies commit by Memorial Day, YKK AP America will pledge the final, additional $5,000 to realize the project.

 

Rick Hudson of YKK AP America presents the 5 for 5 donation to the City of Dublin and Visit Dublin GA

The 5 for 5 Challenge will fund the installation of a podium sculpture by a Dublin artist on the grounds of First African Baptist Church along with additional lighting and landscaping.

 

To partner in the 5 for 5 Challenge, please email [email protected].

Next Steps

Civil Rights activist and long time member of the First African Baptist Church congregation Julie Driger, filled with joy on the momentous occasion and announcement of the 5 For 5 Challenge said “The MLK Monument Committee, under the guidance of Rebecca McWilliam, Director of Visit Dublin GA, put their heads together and a vision was born. Today, we are standing in the presence of that vision. My chest is out a mile, my eyes are fighting back tears, my heart is bounding and I am filled to the brim emotionally. Thanks to the MLK Committee, City of Dublin and all other entities for a job well done. Because of their steadfastness and remaining focused, we are honoring a leader for all the people.”

Next phases of the project will include the installation of water features and a sculpture designed and crafted by Atlanta artist, Corey Barksdale that will stand in the center of the plaza, set for installation in June. “The completion of this project is the culmination of true community partnership and perseverance, which in itself represents the legacy of Dr. King. The economic and cultural impact of the Martin Luther King Monument Park will likely touch this community for generations to come,” stated Tara Bradshaw, Executive Director, Dublin Downtown Development Authority.

As this project continues and develops, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. ring ever true today.  “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with pains taking excellence.”

For media requests, more information on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument Park, and the 5 for 5 Challenge, please contact:

Rebecca McWilliam

Visit Dublin GA

[email protected]

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