University inaugurates Martin Luther King, Jr. busts

Written by Guethshina Altena/News Director

The installment of the Martin Luther King, Jr bust at The Biscayne Bay Campus is the first MLK bust in the North Miami area according to commissioner Esteban L. Bovo, Jr.

On Thursday, Jan 12, the University hosted a ribbon cutting for the bust at BBC by Academic Center 1. The following day, on Friday, Jan 13 the ribbon cutting of another MLK bust at the Modesto Maidique Campus took place right after a commemorative breakfast in between the Graham Center and the Green Library.

Many participated in the ribbon cutting at the MMC including the director of Multicultural Programs and Services Dorret Sawyers, Commissioner Bovo of the Miami Dade County, District 13 and the Black Student Union president Nykeema Radway.

University President Mark B. Rosenberg delivered his remarks and recognized Ysmelio Lopez and his family for sculpting the two busts. Lopez, from Cimagos Nursery, donated the sculpture to FIU, along with a similar one that is now located at BBC.

Guests at the MMC ribbon cutting included the Martin Luther King Committee, the Black Student Union members, the Alpha Phi Alpha- Tau Delta and other students organizations.

“The University is committed to learning both in and out of the classroom, Martin Luther King is an historic leader in the world,” Rosenberg said. “My idea was to celebrate Dr. King because there is a lot of lessons that Dr. King taught and continues to teach with his view of the world, his commitment to nonviolence and social justice.”

Rosenberg believes that the commemorative bust would be a wonderful way to send the message that social justice matters and doing the right thing matters.

“I am anxious for thousands of people to see the sculpture and this is one of the most special places we have on this campus [MMC] as well as the location at the Bay Biscayne for a bust.” Rosenberg said. “It provides the opportunity for people to pause and contemplate the lessons that Dr. King taught and to question their relationship to those lessons and what they can do to help improve the world.”

Rosenberg wants Dr. King to be present with the thousands of people and students pass by this area everyday. At MMC, it is right across from the Green Library which is one of the most visited places on campus. At BBC, the bust is placed by the Academic Center 1 which is right across the bus stop where a lot of students get off. The accessibility of the locations is why president Rosenberg thinks it’s the perfect spot for both campuses.

“Courage to do the right thing” is the message that the president is sending to all those who pass by the sculpture. “The most important thing about Dr. King is that he had the courage to step up and to provide hope and leadership; he did the right thing” president Rosenberg said “Dr. King was a person that the times required and he stepped up and so it should be with our students. The times that require them to step up and do the right thing, you don’t know when, you don’t know where.”

The Black Student Union played a key role in the realization of the ribbon cutting and the preparations leading up to it. According to the BSU president, Nykeema Radway, the University included them in every part of the process leading up to the commemorative event.

The vice president of BSU Rashaad Perry-Patterson is a senior graduating in spring who majors in political science. He was heavily involved in the choosing of the location for the MLK bust at the MMC campus.

“This is the Student Union [pointing at the Graham Center] this is one of the first places that were build at FIU campus, so we chose this location for the bust because of that and because of the heavy traffic and the proximity to the library,” he said. “Given that GC and the library bring a lot of student engagement with campus life, the BSU office, sororities and fraternities close by, we felt like it was a significant area and more feasible place for students to see it.”

Radway was invited to speak at the ribbon cutting commemoration at MMC. “I really hope that this sculpture is empowering just by the sight of it. I think for me when I look at it, it’s symbolic to the fact that change can simply start with a dream,” Radway said.

She believes that King was an everyday man who just decided not to look past social injustice and inequalities. “Today is the day to create the change that you want and speak out against any injustice that you see around you,” she said. “Martin Luther King fought for everyone and he was a very significant figure within the black community.”

Radway is honored to help give a voice to and uplift the black students of the University by participating in the ribbon cutting on behalf of the Black Student Union. She believes that this bust will forever be engraved in FIU’s history and the Black Student Union history.

“Walking past this bust, I want people to challenge their inner Martin Luther King. Not to downplay who he was, but King was a man who chose not to be silent and that’s what we can do,” Radway said.

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