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Presentation looks at new MLK monument

January 13, 2012
By DIANE SPEER - News Lifestyles Editor , The Alpena News

As the nation pauses Jan. 16 to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., a civic-minded group in Alpena has once again planned related activities to foster an appreciation of diversity.

This local observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day starts off Sunday with a panel discussion of current college students on diversity in high school and after high school. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Greg Adamus and followed by a chili supper to benefit the Wash Your Coat project.

On the actual holiday, the film "King" and a discussion led by Alpena Community College faculty member Matt Dunckel will take place. Also on Jan. 16, a presentation will be given by Adamus on the newly dedicated monument in Washington, D.C. that honors King.

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The Chinese sculptor, Lei Yixin, chose a special pink granite that gives a flesh-colored uniqueness to the MLK statue, said Dr. Greg Adamus, who recently toured the monument in Washington, D.C. and will give a presentation about it on Jan. 16. It took 45 days and a passage through the Panama Canal to ship the 159 pieces from China to Baltimore.

"As a member of the Martin Luther King, Jr. committee and a member of the Building Bridges Group, I am surrounded by people who care about diversity in this community," said Dottie Haase. "All of us want to share the richness that comes from appreciating those of different races and those of different religions."

According to Adamus, the committee's original intent this year was to build a celebration around the fact the nation now has a new MLK national monument. Adamus was "commissioned" by his fellow committee members to travel to D.C. and explore the monument. He will be sharing some of his more than 200 photos and his indepth observations regarding this new monument.

What Adamus discovered was a connection the monument has with China, a country where he spent part of 2011 teaching. The monument was sculpted by a Chinese artist, and the pink granite used was actually quarried out of China and shipped here.

Fact Box

Martin Luther

King, Jr. Day activities:

  • Diversity: Then and Now Sunday, 2-4 p.m., St. Paul Lutheran Church

Dr. Greg Adamus will moderate a panel of current college students in a discussion of diversity in high school and after high school. The panel includes both students from ACC and students from AHS who are currently enrolled in area colleges.

  • Chili Supper to benefit Wash Your Coat Sunday, 4 p.m., St. Paul Lutheran Church

Tickets available at the door at $8 for adults, $4 for students and children under 12. Last year, nearly $1,000 was raised so those in need could use Ton of Suds Laundromat for free.

  • "King" film and discussion Monday, 2-4 p.m., ACC Center Building, 104 "King" film and discussion led by ACC faculty member Matt Dunckel. In the film, newsman Tom Brokaw interviews King as well as associates from the civil rights campaigns and contemporary figures.
  • A New Memorial Monday, 7 p.m. ACC Natural Resource Center, 101

A look at the new MLK Memorial just dedicated in Washington, D.C. Dr. Greg Adamus will present photos from his recent trip to the memorial along with his impressions of the four-acre memorial.

"There are huge issues with all that, but that's just the tip of the iceberg," Adamus said. "There are fascinating intrigues about the site chosen, the financing and cost of the monument, the private and public donors, the quotes chosen to chisel into the walls, the landscaping and finance choices, the physical stance of MLK's body, the facial expression of MLK, and whether or not the image even looks like MLK or not."

Adamus said that he believes, as with all art, there is no right answer, interpretation or reaction.

"Every visitor to the monument needs to make up their own mind about whether the monument 'works,' that is whether it serves the purpose of honoring the legacy of a great American in a suitable and informative manner," he said. "That is why I think it's so important to actually go there and walk amongst it, to let the grounds speak to you, and to seek an emotional as well as cerebral response, just like the Lincoln and Vietnam Memorial do."

Adamus also said that one of his biggest surprises upon visiting the monument was finding out that it faces away from the National Mall, with MLK's back to the White House. Another observation regards the pose selected for King.

"In contrast to the Lincoln and Jefferson statues, which sit or stand in a relaxed pose, MLK's stance is provocative and stern, which is more in the style of Easter-bloc totalitarian public sculpture. This takes getting used to," he said.

This special presentation by Adamus will be held at 7 p.m. in Room 101 of ACC's Natural Resource Center.

The panel discussion on Sunday is set for 2-4 p.m. at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 727 S. Second. Included on the panel will be both students from ACC and students from Alpena High School who are currently enrolled in area colleges.

"The panel of young people will be expressing their veiwpoints on diversity from their perspectives when they were in high school and now that they are in a college community," said Haase. "We are excited about sharing with others what young people have to say about our community and the communities they are now part of."

The chili supper is planned at 4 p.m., also at St. Paul Lutheran Church. Last year, nearly $1,000 was raised for the Wash Your Coat project that enables those in need to use the Ton of Suds Laundromat for free. Tickets to the supper can be purchased at the door. Cost is $8 for adults, $4 for students and children under 12.

The "King" film and discussion will be held from 2-4 p.m. Jan. 16 in ACC's Center Building, Room 104. In the film, newsman Tom Brokaw interviews King as well as associates of the civil rights campaigns and contemporary figures Bill Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Bono, actor Forest Whitaker, Rapper Chuck D and others.

Serving on this year's Martin Luther King, Jr. committee along with Haase and Adamus are Bob Greene, Tim Kuehnlein, Florence Stibbitz and Annip Uppal.



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