At the Martin Luther King Jr. monument, on the farthest chair to the left, rest replicas of King’s suit coat and Bible.
While few and simple, the personal effects represent the spirit of a man who acted as a mouthpiece for justice, equality and peace in America.
His presence at the podium, whether it was delivering the “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington D.C. or giving a sermon in his hometown church, was powerful.
UD students may be surprised to know that, while he never stood at the monument podium, Dr. King delivered a speech at the University of Dayton’s Frericks Center, formerly the Field House, in November of 1964.
In his speech, Dr. King talked of the end of segregation and how African-Americans were within the reach of freedom.
“Negroes have come a long, long way but we have a long, long way to go,” he said.
In the late 1990’s, while talking with some women at the UD King Breakfast in mid-January, art history professor Roger Crum, Ph.D., first learned Dr. King had spoken at the University of Dayton.
A member of UD faculty since 1991, Crum was shocked he had never heard about this historic event and was inspired to find a way to commemorate it.
He wanted anyone who stepped foot on campus to recognize the history that had taken place.
“The idea began in a moment of surprise,” Crum said about his inspiration for the monument. Crum then asked professor of art and design Brother Gary Marcinowski, S.M., to head the project.
Brother Gary, a Marianist brother and art enthusiastic since youth, took on the challenge with big plans in mind.
In an interview with Flyer News, Brother Gary revealed the story behind the construction of the monument.
One of Brother Gary’s main concerns was displaying the monument in a place on campus where a steady flow of students would walk. He originally wanted the monument close to the Immaculate Conception Chapel, but he finally settled on the space between two trees on the path between Roesch Library and Albert E. Emanuel Hall.
The team initially planned for it to be a statue, but Brother Gary explained there were already so many statues around campus. He wanted to do something different.
“I wanted a monument that was simple, yet elegant,” he stated.
For that reason, he went with a structure of a wall and podium with three chairs.
The monument was going to be situated in the grass off to the side, but the decision to build the monument as part of a pathway allowed for the building of the bench, a place of reflection and rest.
The chairs in the monument are copper with a dark gray patina on them, and the wall, podium and bench are granite. The team could not find any suitable American granite for the monument, so they used black granite from Zimbabwe.
Brother Gary explained he chose white octagon floor panels and ceramic firestone floor because Dr. King had octagonal stones leading up to his childhood home in Atlanta, Georgia, and the three chairs with King’s chair at the far left to represent community and King’s humility because he tried to give others a voice, a chance to be the center of attention. It also represents how King often liked a good seat from which to overlook the crowd.
Brother Gary hopes the layout of the pulpit and bench will invite professors to take their classes there to teach and discuss, and students will use the monument as a gathering place to talk about current issues and speak their minds.
“The chair with the suit coat and Bible does not only represent King, but also represents anyone who goes to the memorial to work,” he said. “It should be used as a springboard to bring issues forward.”
The chair with the suit coat and Bible does not only represent King, but also represents anyone who goes to the memorial to work. It should be used as a springboard to bring issues forward.
The monument was erected between mid-July and mid-November of 2015 and named “Give Us This Day Our Daily Quest” in honor of the everyday quest Dr. King journeyed to bring justice to all those oppressed in America.
The final step in completing the monument will be installing a plaque naming all those who helped in the process of constructing the monument. It will read, “M. Gary Marcinowski S.M., sculpture, John V. Clarke, typography, Roger J. Crum, memorial concept.”
Brother Gary also said he wishes to thank Dr. Curran and Dr. Benson for their support of the project.
“It wouldn’t be without them,” he said.
However, the Martin Luther King Jr. monument has not received the amount of praise and attention that Brother Gary hoped for.
Crum talked of how, after observing campus tours, he has noticed that tour guides do not usually mention the monument to prospective students. Though, he hopes with better advertisement of the monument, future students will come to know what it represents.
“With the beauty of the monument, people will remember,” Crum said.
The university will hold a monument dedication and luncheon in King’s honor at the Frerick’s Center on Friday, Feb. 12 at 2:15 p.m.
Crum spoke to what King’s visit to Dayton represents: “Behind the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech is the day-to-day reality of what King and his followers did to move the message from town to town. What he was doing at UD is more important than the ‘Dream’ speech.”
With one simple phrase inscribed on the back of the wall, in the bottom left corner, all who lay eyes on the Martin Luther King Jr. monument will read, “Give us this day our daily quest.”
For the full transcript of Dr. King’s speech at the university, click here.
Photo: The recently constructed Martin Luther King, Jr. monument commemorates King’s 1964 speech at the University of Dayton. Chris Santucci/Multimedia Editor