That desire led to the National Monuments Foundation partnering with Clyde and Sandra Strickland Tim Minard, Dame Didi Wong and Social Investment Holdings, Inc to commission a statue of Atlanta’s Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the world’s greatest examples of peace. Minard, Wong and SIH are also sponsoring the statue’s India granite pedestal.
Duluth, Georgia Artist Kathy Fincher began creating the statue – but not just any statue. She discovered while there are over 80 statues of Dr. King throughout the world, none show him “talking to God, praying or seeking God”.
Through the “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” sculpture, Dr. King is portrayed seeking God as he raises his hands to Heaven for guidance and as the spirit of the Lord flows through his robe.
“We believe that the message behind Dr. King’s ministry has international value,” said Fincher. “It was his faith that led him to do good works, become a great man, and a Nobel Peace Prize Recipient.”
Fincher designed and sculpted the original model, which was shared with leaders around the world by the National Monuments Foundation and received significant reviews. The National Monuments Foundation then paired Fincher and Athens sculptor Stan Mullins, creator of the 20-foot-tall Chief Tomachichi, together to sculpt Dr. King’s design on a large scale. The work was completed in Mullins’ studio in Athens, Georgia.
The statue is now in the Rodney Cook Sr. Peace Park in Atlanta’s Historic Vine City where it is one of 18 statues dedicated to 300 years of Georgia’s icons of peace.
Peace is the Atlanta way. It’s the home of many Nobel Peace Prize winners including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and is known as the place of peace and unity. In fact, if Georgia were a nation, it would rank 5th in the world for Nobel Peace Laureates.
Atlanta’s origins of diversity and peace can be connected to its founding. When British General James Oglethorpe landed on the coast of Georgia, he was greeted in peace by Chief Tomochichi. Chief Tomochichi was the only Native American granted the rank of king by the British monarchy and was received at court in England in 1734. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ambassador Andrew Young have suggested that their lives and influence stand on the broad shoulders of Chief Tomochichi.
Since then, Atlanta has become one of the most diverse and accomplished cities in the world and the center of the Civil Rights Movement. Its continued growth, prosperity, and history as the city of peace is attributed to a 150-year-old tradition known as “The Atlanta Way”.
In fact, Asa G. Candler VI, a member of Coca-Cola’s founding family and former National Monuments Foundation board member, recommended that the Millennium Candler Peace and Justice Prizes be jointly given in Atlanta and Copenhagen in alternating years. As a result, Georgia’s long-standing peaceful history caught the attention of numerous peace institutes including the Nobel. The Norwegian Nobel Institute considers Georgia so exceptional they promote the idea that Atlanta could be branded the Global City of Peace.
Atlanta embodies this title through its parks and history. The Rodney Cook Sr. Peace Park, where the new statue in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be placed, is located in Atlanta’s Vine City. Additionally, Atlanta is home to Sunset Avenue, the street where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s home is located along with the houses of other Civil Rights icons: Senator Julian Bond, Mayor Maynard Jackson Sr., W.E.B. DuBois, and Booker T. Washington.
In 2019, The National Park Foundation, with the assistance of The National Monuments Foundation, purchased the M.L. King Life Home, and is now renovating it. It will eventually be open to the public.
Rodney Cook Sr. Peace Park is a reconstruction of Mims Park, the first integrated park in Atlanta, originally built in the 19th century. Today, Rodney Cook Sr. Peace Park has become an epicenter for peace and unity. Once the additional phases of the park are completed, it will become a beacon of peace to the world through education and international diplomacy.