Meck County Parks & Rec to discuss relocating Center City Charlotte’s MLK bronze tribute statue

We’re talking about the statue of Martin Luther King Jr. that can be found near Third and McDowell inside of Marshall Park.
We’re talking about the statue of Martin Luther King Jr. that can be found near Third and McDowell inside of Marshal Park.
Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 9:45 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 10, 2021 at 1:15 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - In many communities, the potential movement of civil war statues has sparked powerful, emotional, volatile debate and out of control protests.

Here in Charlotte, new conversations are underway over where to relocate the sculpture of a civil rights icon.

We’re talking about the statue of Martin Luther King Jr. that can be found near Third and McDowell inside of Marshall Park.

With plans for Brooklyn Village underway, the artwork in that spot may be on borrowed time.

Removal by local governments and explosive takedowns from angry citizens underscores how the movement of public statues can be downright emotional.

In recent months, attitudes have been pushed to the brink when civil war tributes are carted off, but in Charlotte, local residents starting next year will sound off over the relocation of America’s best-known civil rights icon.

This Center City bronze tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King is clearly under the microscope.

“There’s been a lot of issues coming up with regards. So what is the most appropriate location for the statue?” Lee Jones, director of Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation

Where it goes in many ways falls on the shoulders of Jones.

“Should it remain where it is at Second War Park, soon to be Brooklyn Village, or should it be located to the other side of the Second Ward gym where the school is, or would a more appropriate location be Martin Luther King Park.

The proposed uptown development known as Brooklyn Village is slated to have residential, retail space, and hotel rooms.

Part of it will be built on the land that currently takes up space in Marshall Park which is now home to the King statue.

“I hope that they’ll put it in a place where people can still go and see it and still remember all the hard work that we all put into it,” MLK statue committee member Ginese Clement said.

The name Ginise Clement is etched in stone.

More than 40 years ago, Clement and a committee of others raised tens of thousands of dollars for this towering figure, and in April of 1980, it was unveiled to the public.

Such a special occasion attracted dignitaries that even included Martin Luther King Senior.

“It was a chilling moment in the sense that we were all there pulling something together,” former Charlotte mayor Eddie Knox said.

Knox was mayor in 1980 during a time when people connected to the statue project put differences aside.

“We forgot about our color. And, nobody talked about that and nobody thought about it. They were just thinking about this legend of this great man. And that’s what we were focused on,” he said.”

Over the years, this locale has been responsible for lessons learned and shared reverence during the annual King Holiday.

It’s not the first time this kind of change emerged on the Queen City landscape.

Earlier this year, the statue of Panthers owner Jerry Richardson was removed from Bank of America Stadium after his fall from grace with the NFL.

Historian Dr. Dan Morrill says statues provide communities with meaningful reference points.

“It’s very important public policy what you decide to put out for people to see and interact with,” Morrill said.

Interaction at this spot Marshall Park will continue until a decision on where and when to move it will be made.

“I’d say we’re at least a year or so down the line before you see any real construction on the site.”

Copyright 2021 WBTV. All rights reserved.