Aug 27, 2023 - News

How Denver ended up with two MLK statues

A Rocky Mountain News photo shows Martin Luther King Sr. standing near the first statue honoring his son at City Park in Denver in 1976. Photo: Esteban L. Hernandez/Axios

You've likely seen the Martin Luther King Jr. statue at City Park.

Details: The nearly 10-foot statue towers over a larger plaza in the park's southwest corner. The bronze structure includes MLK's likeness and people who inspired him: Frederick Douglass, Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks and Sojourner Truth.

  • Called "I Have a Dream," the public artwork was completed by artist Ed Dwight after he was commissioned by the city. It was installed in 2002.

The intrigue: This was actually the second memorial King statue at the park, replacing one that faced controversy over the way it displayed King.

The current Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Statue at City Park. Photo: Brian Brainerd/The Denver Post via Getty Images

State of play: That first statue, erected in 1976 and created by artist Ed Rose, featured the likeness of King and Emmett Till, the 14-year-old who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955.

  • Members of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation, which commissioned the statue, said that it didn't look like King, leading to a dispute over payments for the artwork, per the Denver Post.
  • It was taken down in 2002 and replaced with Dwight's sculpture.

Of note: Rose's statue is still on display. It stood outside the Martin Luther King Jr. Museum and Cultural Center in Pueblo until the museum closed in 2016.

  • It's now outside the Friendly Harbor Community Center in Pueblo, according to Westword.

Go deeper: Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy in Denver


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