SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — At the meeting point of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and the Savannah River, a historic first will soon take place.
For the first time in the city’s history, a monument honoring a civil rights leader will be on display.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be memorialized in the form of a bronze statue that will stand in a new park inside the Plant Riverside District entertainment complex, which is still under construction.
Hotelier and Savannah native Richard Kessler says the eight-foot-tall statue is his gift to the city.
“We discussed this with the council, and I suggested that I thought it would be a good thing to create a park in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., given the involvement he’s had in Savannah over the years, and the national and international importance that he’s had,” Kessler told News 3.
Commissioned by artist and figurative life sculptor Franco Castelluccio, the statue will feature biographical information from King’s life and work, as well as text from the Emancipation Day address King delivered in Savannah and notable quotes relating to his legacy.
Kessler says he and Castelluccio welcomed valuable input from the civil rights leader’s family when working on the statue.
“We submitted it to the King family, they looked at it, made some comments, we adjusted it with the suggestions they had, took it back to them and they were very pleased with it,” Kessler said.
He added that when the Plant Riverside District has its four-day grand opening sometime in late March or early April, he and his team are reserving a Sunday for the unveiling of the new statue.
It’s possible that Dr. King’s family will attend the special unveiling, Kessler told News 3.
“I think [the public reaction] will be one of great pride,” Kessler said.