Anchorage Renovates MLK Memorial

Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA - Anchorage

Anchorage residents are celebrating the renovation of a memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Junior at the Delaney Park Strip. The new memorial contains a laser-etched granite image of Dr. King that can be seen from one of downtown’s main thoroughfares.

Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA - Anchorage

Around 100 residents watched as dignitaries cut the ribbon on the newly renovated memorial on the west end of the Delaney Park Strip. The improved memorial contains new interpretive signs, a better walkway and a donor wall. But the big new addition is a granite image of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior that can be seen from the busy road nearby. Former Anchorage Mayor, Rick Mystrom was on the committee which raised funds for the renovation. He said the city was making a statement by improving the memorial.

“I love the fact that it’s facing L street, which has about has about 40,000 cars a day going past it. And the only disadvantage of this location before is it wasn’t as public. And now it’s much more public. And we’re making a statement about the people of Anchorage and our community,” Mystrom.

In the 90’s, volunteers raised more than $250,000 to build the original memorial. But it became rundown. In 2010 the Anchorage Park Foundation secured a $150,000 legislative grant to carry out the renovation. In addition the Park Foundation raised $80,000 from individual and corporate donors. Senator Bettye Davis also spoke at the ceremony. She said the more public renovation of the memorial was critical to passing on the values that King stood for to the future generations in Anchorage.

“We have to make sure that our children understand what their past was. We don’t have to live in the past; we need to look to the future. Any nation or any person that do not know their past history is doomed for failure. And we must do all that we can. And that’s not just for black kids, it’s for all kids. As Dr. Martin Luther King said black, white, yellow, brown, whatever the color might be,” Davis said.

Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA - Anchorage

Anchorage resident Cal Williams arrived in Anchorage from the segregated South in 1965. He says the memorial is a sign that Anchorage is changing.

“Over the years I have seen this community grow together, which is basically Dr. King’s dream. Now we have a collection of people from around the world. We have people from the Vietnam; we have Hmongs, Filipinos at my church, Samoans. So it’s a great melting pot. It is indeed the Rainbow that Dr. King dreamed of and envisioned. Anchorage can show the way that people of all races, all colors and all economic backgrounds can indeed get along well together,” Williams said.

Nathalie Bunton with Shilo Baptist Church closed the the ceremony with a song called ‘We’ve Come this Far by Faith.”

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Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network.

Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage.

Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email.

Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.

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