USF welcomes opportunity to honor MLK at monument dedication

May 12, 2023

FORT WAYNE, Ind.—As a City of Fort Wayne partner, the University of Saint Francis will enthusiastically host the “60th Anniversary Celebration” to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech in Fort Wayne in 1963.

The celebration, in conjunction with the Pillars of Hope and Justice Monument Dedication, will take place at 7 p.m. on June 5 at the USF Robert Goldstine Performing Arts Center, 431 W. Berry Street. The celebration will feature Martin Luther King III and will follow the 6 p.m. monument unveiling and dedication at the northwest corner of Main and Ewing streets.

“The University of Saint Francis is pleased and humbled to be part of what will be a tremendous evening honoring the legacy of Dr. King and his visit to Fort Wayne,” USF Interim President Dr. Lance Richey said. “The University thanks everyone involved in this event and offers a special note of appreciation to Dr. Clifford F. Buttram, Jr., director of the USF Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership, for his volunteer work on this project over the last three years.”

“Fort Wayne will celebrate a national, cultural and spiritual leader whose impact has not diminished since his visit in June 1963,” Dr. Buttram said. “It is fantastic to see this three-year project reach its fruition and serve as a lasting tribute to Dr. King’s appearance in Fort Wayne 60 years ago to the day.”

In addition to Martin Luther King III, guests and speakers will include Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry, the Fort Wayne City Council, History Center Executive Director Todd Pelfrey, Rev. Bill McGill, Fort Wayne Community Choir, and many more dignitaries and monument-planning participants.

The Pillars of Hope and Justice monument features six pillars set in a circular configuration around a stone or concrete plaza. Each pillar will evoke both ancient architectural pillars and growing reeds of papyrus that emerge from the ground and bend outwards at the top. The organic form of papyrus reeds evokes Dr. King’s vision of nonviolent resistance. The sculptural, steel forms will be waterjet cut with words from King’s 1963 speech in Fort Wayne. The waterjet words dramatically arc over visitors, evoking King’s statement, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” The pillars are planned to be approximately 15 feet tall. LED ground up-lights will be installed in the center of each pillar, illuminating them at night.

The design and creation of Pillars of Hope and Justice was made possible with funds from the City of Fort Wayne; Harriett Inskeep; The Journal Gazette Foundation; The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Fund, a fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne; and the Fort Wayne Public Art Commission.

The sculpture dedication and 60th Anniversary Celebration were made possible through partnership with the Fort Wayne Public Art Commission; the City of Fort Wayne; Arts United; the Canterbury School’s Jonathan Hancock Lecture Series; the University of Saint Francis; and Sweetwater.

Founded in 1890 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition, the University of Saint Francis offers more than 60 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs through the College of Health Sciences and the College of Arts, Sciences and Business. In addition to its traditional programs, USF designs focused curricula for working adults in Fort Wayne, Crown Point and online. USF Downtown houses the music technology program while offering enhanced internship and networking opportunities for students. The University of Saint Francis, recognized as an NAIA Five-Star Champion of Character institution, has 18 athletic programs boasting two individual and four team NAIA national championships. Approximately 1,900 students from a broad geographic region attend USF.