Fort Wayne’s commitment to being an open, welcoming, inviting, and inclusive community continues as we work each day to be the best city possible.
The public has a unique opportunity to come together with local government officials, civic leaders, and neighborhood advocates for the Fort Wayne Public Art Commission’s unveiling of Pillars of Hope and Justice, a public art monument in downtown Fort Wayne.
The dedication of the Pillars of Hope and Justice monument will begin at 6 p.m. Monday, June 5 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 www.MLKMonumentFW.org.
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.
In February 2020, 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. King 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. In addition, the 60th Anniversary Celebration will include remarks from King III and a recitation of the speech his father made during his visit to Fort Wayne.
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.
Fort Wayne’s ongoing success has a lot to do with how our arts and cultural scene continues to thrive. The community’s collective work helps make opportunities available for everyone. We know as cities compete for people and jobs, how a community values and appreciates art and cultural offerings matter.
Now more than ever, we must look for ways to find common ground, build one another up, and find all the good that our city has to offer. June 5 will be a night that you won’t want to miss.