The Design of the MLK Memorial and its Bay Area Beginnings

 

The Martin Luther King memorial may be in Washing D.C but a great deal of its creation came to fruition in the San Francisco Bay Area.

It all began when Bonnie Fisher responded to a little ad in 2000; it turned out to be a design competition for the MLK memorial. Fisher soon gathered her colleagues at the San Francisco ROMA Design Group, and began to visualize a memorial for one of the most influential men of the 20th-century.

The firm, ROMA, founded by Fisher and husband Boris Dramov, is also responsible for enhancing the pedestrian realm of the Embarcadero promenade. — A landscape and architectural site that transformed the waterfront following the1989 earthquake.

Fisher told the Wall Street Journal that she envisioned for visitors at the memorial to encounter a massive "mountain of despair," and then would walk through a removed slice of that mountain to reach a "stone of hope." She was referring to a segment of a speech in which Martin Luther King Jr. had said:

 

 

"With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope."

Collaborating with other Northern California thinkers, The ROMA Design Group invited Stanford historian and Professor Clayborne Carson, who had also been hand-chosen by the late Mrs. Coretta Scott King to edit and publish King’s papers, to help them on a proposal for the memorial.

Mr. Carson explained that his intention was merely to offer advice and wish them well in the competition but he was soon impressed by Bonnie’s pert enthusiasm as she described ROMA’s “interdisciplinary” approach, bringing together architects, landscape architects, and urban planners to redesign urban environments.

It seems as though that has been and continues to be the defining and constant focal point of all designs, schools, and roadways dedicated to MLK — bringing people together.

In Oakland and Berkeley, MLK Way was once called "Grove Street." It stretched for several miles north from Downtown Oakland into North Berkeley and was renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Way in 1984. The street had once represented the dividing line between neighborhoods where minorities could and could not live or buy property. But now, it's a reminder of the same hope Bonnie Fisher intended when creating the memorial's design.

If Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, he would be 84-year-old. And though his life was taken, his legacy lives on through the hundreds of amazing architectural structures, gardens and monuments respectfully dedicated to him. His life in California is fully expressed everyday and on Monday, many activities and community initiatives are taking place city-wide. Below are a few events in the Bay Area if you want to be involved in celebrating!


Women's Initiative, San Francisco - January 21, 2013 Oakland, and Berkeley

Women's Initiative is happy to announce Martin Luther King Day of Service event. Women's Initiative serves low-income high potential women who are starting or growing a business. You will get the opportunity to meet these women in person to help them on a project. Projects may vary from painting, filing, organizing and etc.

MLK Day Of Service 2013 (Golden Gate National Parks)
San Francisco - January 21, 2013

You can volunteer in the Golden Gate National Parks at our doorstep and help grow and restore these cherished national park-lands. It's fun, it's healthy, and it makes a difference--the perfect way to pitch in on a momentous day. Bring the whole family and friends! Individuals and groups of all ages are welcome. Click here for more information

Fruitvale Community And Lazear Elementary School - MLK Day Of Service 2013
824 29th Avenue, Oakland, CA 94601 - January 21, 2013

MLK DAY OF SERVICE 2013: 9:00AM to 1:00PM Location: 824 29th Ave. Project: Community and school beautification, clean up, planting, painting and building garden beds and benches. To Register go to www.mlkchallenge.org or e-mail to Markus von Euw at sfpbayarea@gmail.com.

For more information on how you can help, where you can help and what's going on in your local community, click here.