Construction to begin in January
January 15, 2016 Dublin, GA
Visit Dublin GA and the Downtown Development Authority announced the completion of design work on a new monument marking the site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s first public speech in downtown Dublin, Georgia. King delivered his first public address on April 17, 1944, at First African Baptist Church as part of an oratorical contest. The DDA recently purchased property directly adjacent to the church to develop, in partnership with Visit Dublin GA, an interactive monument and plaza to commemorate the historic speech site.
Joshua Kight, executive director of the DDA, noted that the plans call for the site to become both a monument to Dr. King and a new gateway entrance into downtown Dublin. “Dublin has a proud history and the MLK speech site provides an opportunity to celebrate that history. At the same time, the beautification and development of the Highway 441 entrance into downtown will make our area more attractive to visitors and will contribute to the continuing cultural and economic progress in our community.”
The monument features an open space plaza with an interpretive podium as its focal point. The podium will be topped with stained glass, reflecting the stained glass at the sanctuary of the First AB Church. Engraved quotes from Dr. King’s speech will radiate from the podium, symbolizing the far-reaching impact of his message and life’s work. Murals highlighting key moments in King’s life and marking First African Baptist Church as pivotal in King’s journey will be found on the walls surrounding the plaza, along with water features, a seating area, and signage.
Oliver Seabolt with Orion Planning Group out of St. Simons Island, Georgia was thrilled to work on the new concepts for the space directly across from First African Church, saying, “The significance of Dr. King’s first public speech at the First African Baptist Church is monumental for the City of Dublin and an invaluable memory for the Church. I couldn’t have been more excited or honored when asked to design a monument and plaza commemorating Dr. King’s first public speech. This was a rare opportunity to create a place that honors and memorializes one of the most influential leaders of our time. Dr. King’s ‘voice’ paved the way for racial equality and his ‘voice’ was first heard at the First African Baptist Church. This was a true milestone in Dr. King’s crusade which ultimately influenced the design. A monument, plaza, and integrated
landscape were developed as one cohesive destination that will provide an educational and emotional experience honoring this historic event and the later accomplishments Dr. King.”
According to Rebecca McWilliam, Director of Visit Dublin GA, cultural and heritage tourism is one of the fastest growing segments of the tourism industry, with over 78% of travelers participating in cultural activities during their vacations. “With its interactive mural, deep symbolism, and peaceful yet vibrant design, the monument creates a space that pays homage to the achievements of Dr. King and celebrates his legacy while also being a place of reflection and inspiration. We hope that generations of visitors and locals alike will use this space as a catalyst for envisioning positive change in their world.”
The project is a partnership effort between the DDA, Visit Dublin GA, and the First AB Church. Many organizations, including the City of Dublin, the Dublin-Laurens Historical Society, Georgia Council for the Arts, Georgia Department of Economic Development Tourism Division, and others, have pledged support for the effort, and have joined in grant applications to help fund the project.
“We look forward to the upcoming ground-breaking at the site, and at the same time are enthusiastically raising funds to make the entire monument a reality,” said McWilliam. View the plans at MLK Commemorative Plaza_12-15-15_low res (1)
Donations are currently being accepted through an online campaign at http://www.gofundme.com/k6r0bw. Donations can also be mailed payable to First African
Baptist Church, Attention: MLK Monument, PO Box 311, Dublin, GA 31040.
For more information on the project, contact Rebecca McWillam of Visit Dublin GA at 478-272-4002, Maurice Sizer at First African Baptist Church at 478-275-7963, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.