Artist Saya Woolfalk addresses the crowd at the dedication of the Dr. Coretta Scott King monument at The King Center. Photography by Isadora Pennington.

On April 27 Hulu teamed up with The King Center to present a monument dedicated to the life and work of Dr. Coretta Scott King, the beloved late wife of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In her life, Mrs. King was known for her commitment to fighting for racial equality. She was an author, activist, and outspoken proponent for civil rights. Following her husband’s assassination in 1968 she took on a leadership role in the movement and became active in the Women’s Movement. She kept her husband’s memory alive when she founded the King Center and worked to ensure that his birthday became a national holiday. Later, her scope of activism expanded to include LGBTQ rights and oppose apartheid. 

On what would be King’s 96th birthday, the media and friends of The King Center were invited to witness the dedication of a sculpture by artist Saya Woolfalk that anchors the new Coretta Scott King Peace and Meditation Garden.

The event kicked off with special remarks by Dr. Bernice A. King, the daughter of Coretta and Martin Luther King Jr.; The King Center’s CEO Rev. De’Leice R. Drane; Karyn Greer evening anchor at WSB-TV; Taylor K. Shaw of BWA Studios; Director of Creative Operations & Culture at Hulu Vivi Nguyen; artist Saya Woolfalk; Deputy Director Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs Monica Prothro; and Minyon Moore, mentee of Mrs. Coretta Scott King. The crowd enjoyed songs by classical singer Victory Brinker (as seen on America’s Got Talent) and Tony and two-time Grammy Award Winner Jennifer Holliday, and the words of poet Pearl Cleage galvanized those present in the strength and power of Dr. Coretta Scott King’s memory and influence. 

The monument to Dr. Coretta Scott King features a lectern and bronze cast microphones – one of which is a real, functioning microphone allowing visitors to engage with the work – under an arching metal “chapel dome.” As Woolfalk put it, this encourages people to “speak their own words and commitments to civil rights and nonviolence.” At the center of the dome a bright light shines down, illuminating the lectern and all those who pause to contemplate King’s contributions to the civil rights movement. The ground underneath features a tiled mosaic of the rose that bears King’s name. 

“It is an immersive environment,” said Woolfalk. “It’s not a representational sculpture. It’s intended to make you feel like you’re in the spirit of Mrs. King, so you walk into the space and you feel her spirit.”

The Coretta Scott King monument was commissioned by Hulu as part of its “Made By Her: Monuments” project which was launched in an effort to bring more equity to public art. Several years ago when Hulu executives learned that less than 8% of public statues in the United States are of women, they commissioned Woolfalk to create a series of three new public monuments representing the contributions of historic women. The artworks depict Coretta Scott King in Atlanta, Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Miami, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Los Angeles.

“The magnitude of her contributions to humanity are yet to be known,” Rev. Bernice King, CEO of The King Center, said of her mother’s memory. “Today’s dedication of this monument is but a beginning. There’s much more to come and when her legacy is fully revealed we will know that because of her – because of Mom, because of Coretta Scott King – the dream lives and the legacy continues.”

Isadora Pennington is a freelance writer and photographer based in Atlanta. She is the editor of Sketchbook by Rough Draft, a weekly Arts newsletter.