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Coretta Scott King memorial ‘chapel’ sculpture planned for King Center grounds

A conceptual illustration of the Coretta Scott King memorial "chapel" sculpture as shown by designer Metalab at an Aug. 22 meeting of Neighborhood Planning Unit M.

By John Ruch

A memorial sculpture to Civil Rights leader Coretta Scott King is planned for the grounds of the King Center in Sweet Auburn.

Dubbed the “Chapel for the Beloved Community” in conceptual illustrations, the domed, gazebo-like structure would sit near the crypt where she and her husband, the famed Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., lie in rest.

Conceptual illustrations of the “chapel” sculpture and its rose-like patio mosaic, as shown by Metalab to NPU-M.

The structure is expected to be installed at the end of October, pending a City special administrative permit required since the 449 Auburn Ave. site is within a historic landmark district. Conceptual illustrations were shown at an Aug. 22 meeting of Neighborhood Planning Unit M by the project manager, Lana Barakeh of the Texas firm Metalab. Barakeh referred to the project as the Coretta Scott King Chapel.

The illustrations show a steel structure 19 feet high and 11 feet in diameter inscribed with quotes from Coretta Scott King and such words as “liberty,” “rights” and “change.” Under the structure would be a bronze podium bearing her image and several microphones as a tribute to her public speaking. Most of the microphones would be fake, but one would be real for use in public events.

The structure and a patio beneath it would be decorated with rose-like patterns in reference to a type of that flower that was named for her in 2013.

In 1968 Coretta Scott King founded the King Center — fully, the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. She led the creation of the MLK Historic Site and District and remained a lifelong Civil Rights activist. She died in 2006.

The King Center did not respond to a request for more details about the project.

NPU-M approved a support letter for the project, whose permit hearing is expected next month, according to Barakeh.

Metalab also is involved in the creation of a new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Cincinnati, according to the company’s Facebook page.


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Martin Luther King Jr and Coretta Scott King lead a march in Atlanta in an undated photo (Credit: Thomas Hawk via GPA archive)

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