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Cincinnati picks team to create a new MLK Jr. statue and plaza in Avondale

artist rendering of the memorial
The Light of Hope should be completed by August, 2023.

The city of Cincinnati has selected a team to build a new statue of Martin Luther King Junior in Avondale. Norman Lee with Re:Site says his team will work with two artists to build the statue.

“It has a centralized bronze of Dr. King. He is surrounded by six pillars of stained glass and each of those pillars correspond to one of those six principles or pillars of non-violence,” he says.

The statue and plaza will replace a memorial that sat at Reading Road and Martin Luther King Junior Drive. It was moved to accommodate construction of the new I-71 interchange.

The memorial’s statue will be nearly life-sized and created by Stephen Hayes. Lee says people in community engagement sessions talked about the enormous King monument in Washington.

“We thought it was important to portray King as a person, a human that did extraordinary things. So instead of having this image or this piece of a towering, almost like a god-like figure, it was important to have this kind of notion of King as a person, that he inspired others.”

The final contract between the artists and the city is still being negotiated. Cincinnati Council voted last year to dedicate $1 million to the project.

David Wilson will create the stained glass towers surrounding a bronze statue of King.

“We wanted to find that nice merger between creating something that we heard from community members on Zoom conferences (about) different memorials that they’ve seen and things that they liked about them, but also create something that is very unique and one-of-a-kind for the city of Cincinnati because we felt like the city of Cincinnati deserves that.”

Wilson says the plaza will be designed to honor King and the six pillars of non-violence, while providing a intimate space for reflection and acting as a beacon.

The memorial should be completed by August of 2023, in time for the 60th anniversary of King's I Have a Dream speech.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.