January 2019 Volume 15

City of Atlanta Commissions MLK Jr Statue by Basil Watson

Dr. Glen Laman
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KC Old boy and renown Jamaican sculptor and painter, Basil Watson, Order of Distinction (OD), has been commissioned by the City of Atlanta to provide a statue of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The statue will be located on Martin Luther King Jr Drive, near to CNN headquarters and facing the new Mercedes Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta.

Dr. King was born in Atlanta, Georgia and rose to national and international prominence as a Baptist minister and leader of the civil rights movement until his assignation in April 1968. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1964.

He led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and in 1957 became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). With the SCLC he helped organize the nonviolent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama. He also helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

Watson attended Kingston College from 1969 to 1976 before enrolling in the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts (1976 – 1980).

He was awarded the Order of Distinction – Commander Class in 2016 by the Jamaican government for artistic work.

Watson has been an Atlanta resident since 2002. He previously completed a work for the city entitled, “Cradle-Future in our Hands” which is on display at the Neighborhood Union Health Center in Vine City, Atlanta.

His most recent projects include the 7-foot statue of Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce which was unveiled in October, 2018 and a statue of Louise Bennett (Miss Lou) which was unveiled in Gordon Town, St Andrew, Jamaica recently.

In 2017, his 7-foot bronze statue of sprint legend Usain St Leo Bolt was unveiled at Jamaica's National Stadium.

Watson’s other works include statues of Jamaican sprinters Merlene Ottey and Herb McKenley at the National Stadium, and his seven statues of Jamaica’s national heroes at Heroes Walk in Emancipation park in Kingston, Jamaica.

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