Interactive Civil Rights Monument Makes Cease At King Middle

The Blank Slate: Hope for a New America memorial has traveled so far it sits on a flatbed truck that hauled it to a dozen cities across the country this summer.

The most recent unveiling took place last Friday at the King Center in Atlanta in honor of the 58th anniversary of the Washington DC March and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

The memorial is a towering statue of four African Americans. After a purple cloth was removed from the statue, the sculptor, 38-year-old Kwame Akoto-Bamfo, described his creation from the bottom up, starting with a slave kneeling on the floor: “There we see him, tied up, tied up”, he probably didn’t even know English, ”said Akoto-Bamfo.

On the back of the slave stands a civil war soldier, a black man in the uniform of the north, “he fought for what he believed in,” continued Akoto-Bamfo. “He fought for freedom that he never saw.”

And at the top of the statue is a black mother with a child on her back, holding a lantern in one hand and an empty blackboard in the other. This is what makes this statue interactive: the board is electronic and can display messages written by visitors.

“So that we can see the words of everyone else who has something to say,” said Akoto-Bamfo. “And everyone else who wants to share their thoughts, dreams, frustrations about racial injustice in America.”

Akoto-Bamfo says he created the statue in response to the hundreds of Confederate memorials that still stand in the United States

The sculptor Kwame Akoto-Bamfo from Ghana sits next to Rev. Bernice King in front of the unveiling of his traveling civil rights monument. (Emil Moffatt / WABE)

Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter, Rev. Bernice King, says works like this, along with the performing arts, can often help society overcome evil and inequality.

“Whatever the expression, art has a way of reaching our sensitivity and awakening our humanity,” she said.

The Blank Slate Memorial will be open to view at the King Center outdoors through Saturday, September 4th, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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