A crowd of bundled up folks gathered in the cold at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Bragg Street at 2 p.m. on Monday to dedicate the much traveled bust of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in its new and everyone hopes permanent location.
The statue commemorates the civil rights leader and the fact that King was scheduled to speak in Greensboro on April 4,1968, the day he was assassinated in Memphis.
The statue was originally unveiled in 1995 in front of Project Homestead two blocks further south on MLK Drive. After Project Homestead succumbed to financial difficulties, the statue was moved to the corner of South Elm Street and MLK Drive where not only was it vandalized and struck by vehicles, but the time and the elements also took their toll and the decision was made to move it to a better location. The original sculpture by the late Wilbur Lee Mapp was cast in cement and painted gold.
But before the statue was moved again the decision was made to restore it and then recast it in bronze. The work was done in the studio of Jim Gallucci, who said on Tuesday before the unveiling that Lapp came by frequently to make repairs to the original, consult on the work and watch it’s progress. Gallucci also noted that Lapp got to see his sculpture after it was cast in bronze last year, but died shortly afterward.
Because of the temperature which was hovering around the freezing point the remarks made by Mayor Nancy Vaughan and others were kept brief. But a good number of people from the neighborhood braved the cold to welcome the statute home.
The current site is on a newly constructed one half mile portion of the Downtown Greenway and after the statue was unveiled Vaughan along with councilmembers Yvonne Johnson, Sharon Hightower, Marikay Abuzuaiter, Nancy Hoffman and Goldie Wells helped cut the ribbon opening this portion of the Greenway. The Downtown Greenway which was first planned in 2001, is currently scheduled to be completed in 2020.