On June 5, the Fort Wayne Public Art Commission will unveil Pillars of Hope and Justice, a public art monument in downtown Fort Wayne.
Designed by artists Shane Allbritton and Norman Lee with RE:site Studio, the monument commemorates the June 5, 1963 visit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Fort Wayne, during which he gave a speech at the former Scottish Rite Auditorium sharing his vision for nonviolent resistance. King’s Fort Wayne speech was part of a critical sequence of speeches from “Letter from Birmingham Jail” on April 16, 1963, to “The Great March to Freedom” on June 23, 1963 to “I Have a Dream” on the National Mall on August 28, 1963. Because a complete, fully recorded version of his speech was not known to exist, the Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society collected, assembled and ordered all documented remarks, as repeated in area newspapers.
On February 4, 2020, Fort Wayne City Council passed a resolution sponsored by Councilpersons Michelle Chambers and Russ Jehl initiating a process for the creation of a public display commemorating the words and visit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Fort Wayne in 1963. City Council recognizes the social value of memorializing Dr. King’s dream of racial equality and harmony.
King’s son, Martin Luther King III, will travel to Fort Wayne for the dedication of Pillars of Hope and Justice at its location on the northwest corner of West Main and Ewing streets in downtown Fort Wayne. The monument dedication will be followed by a 60th Anniversary Celebration which will include remarks from Martin Luther King III and a recitation of the speech his father made during his visit to Fort Wayne.
The dedication of the Pillars of Hope and Justice monument will begin at 6 p.m. at the northwest corner of West Main and Ewing streets, followed by the 60th Anniversary Celebration, which will be held in the nearby USF Robert Goldstine Performing Arts Center (the former Scottish Rite Auditorium), at 7 p.m. For more information, visit MLKMonumentFW.org.
The design and creation of Pillars of Hope and Justice was made possible with funds from the City of Fort Wayne; Harriett Inskeep; The Journal Gazette Foundation; The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Fund, a fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne; and the Fort Wayne Public Art Commission.
The sculpture dedication and 60th Anniversary Celebration were made possible through partnership with the Fort Wayne Public Art Commission; the City of Fort Wayne; Arts United; the Canterbury School’s Jonathan Hancock Lecture Series; the University of Saint Francis; and Sweetwater.
In 2018, Mayor Tom Henry and City Council created the Public Art Commission and Public Art Program. Councilmen Glynn Hines and Tom Freistroffer sponsored the legislation. The Art Commission is tasked with commissioning, reviewing and selecting art to be displayed in public spaces with the goal to enhance the visual environment and strengthen the positive reputation, brand and stature of Fort Wayne and its neighborhoods.