Bank account is established for MLK statue quest

A bank account was established Wednesday to receive contributions toward an effort to have a statue of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. placed outside the Jefferson County Courthouse.

Barbara Blunt Muhammad, who is chairing a committee on the matter, said contributions may be made directly at any Simmons First National Bank or by mail to the MLK Project Statue Fundraiser, c/o SFNB, P.O. Box 7009, Pine Bluff 71611-9988.

Muhammad is hoping the campaign will gather speed quickly, as the committee’s aim is to have the proposed life-sized statue created and delivered to Pine Bluff for a January unveiling to mark the 85th anniversary of King’s birth. Henri Linton, chairman of the art department and a professor at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, estimates the cost of the bronze — to be produced out-of-state — would be between $100,000 and $125,000.

The project committee met Tuesday night at UAPB. Among other fundraising ideas discussed was the production and sale of T-shirts bearing a likeness of King with two separate, imprinted King quotes — “Continue the Dream” and “The Struggle Continues.” Other quotes considered were “Fulfilling the Dream” and “Let Freedom Ring.”

King visited UAPB — then Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College — in 1958, delivering a commencement address shortly after the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott and in the midst of the Little Rock Central High School integration crisis.

King urged graduates to “revolt against segregation and discrimination everywhere.”

First Lady Michelle Obama referenced King’s speech there when she delivered a UAPB commencement address in May 2010.