EJI Unveils New Statue of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Montgomery


EJI unveiled a new statue honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at EJI’s Legacy Plaza in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, on Friday.

This is the first full-sized statue of Dr. King in Montgomery, where he was one of 89 leaders arrested in February 1956 for organizing the Montgomery Bus Boycott to peacefully protest the racially discriminatory treatment of Black riders on city buses.

One of America’s Greatest Leaders

Dr. King came to Montgomery in 1954 to serve as pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, just steps away from Legacy Plaza, and was elected to lead the Montgomery Improvement Association just 13 months later.

White opponents of racial equality called his home with threats, physically attacked him at speaking events, burned crosses on his lawn, and bombed his home while his wife and infant daughter were inside.

Rather than protect Dr. King, Southern law enforcement arrested, jailed, and fined him more than 25 times for participating in boycotts, sit-ins, marches, and other protests.

His strategy of nonviolent resistance in the face of brutal violence from white opponents of civil rights drew nationwide attention that Dr. King harnessed to change the law.

His powerful words, including his April 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail” after Birmingham police turned dogs and fire hoses on peaceful demonstrators and his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, moved elected officials to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

After Alabama State Troopers attacked voting rights demonstrators in Selma, Dr. King led a march to Montgomery that paved the way to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He next launched the Poor People’s Campaign for economic equality and was supporting sanitation workers in Memphis when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Dr. King has been honored with a national holiday and memorial in Washington, D.C.

“Dr. King is one of the greatest leaders this nation has ever known,” EJI director Bryan Stevenson said. “In Montgomery, we are honored to be a part of his life and legacy and thrilled to now recognize his brilliance and commitment to justice with a statue.”

Honoring Local Heroes at Legacy Plaza

Legacy Plaza is home to a statue of Rosa Parks, whose December 1, 1955, arrest in Montgomery famously launched the bus boycott that she led alongside Dr. King, Jo Ann Robinson, E.D. Nixon, and other activists.

Acclaimed Atlanta-based sculptor Basil Watson created the statues of Mrs. Parks and Dr. King.

A sculpture honoring the extraordinary John Lewis will be added in coming months.

Located across the street from the Legacy Museum, Legacy Plaza is a gathering place for visitors to EJI’s Legacy Sites. The plaza is also a place to honor and learn more about the people whose courageous resistance to racial discrimination and segregation in Montgomery inspired a national movement for civil rights, justice, and equality that continues today.

In addition to the new statues of Mrs. Parks and Dr. King, the plaza features a brick sculpture memorializing civil rights marchers and a mural by local artist Kevin King.

The unveiling was attended by Dr. King’s daughter, Dr. Bernice A. King, a global thought leader, strategist, peace advocate, and CEO of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center For Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta.