City of Atlanta Selects Jamaican Artist Basil Watson to Create Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sculpture

Basil Watson of Lawrenceville has been commissioned by the City of Atlanta to create a statue of Martin Luther King Jr. to be unveiled in October. Photo: Basil Watson

From a pool of nearly 100 talented artists, the City of Atlanta has commissioned world-renowned Jamaican sculptor Basil Watson to create a larger-than-life-size replica of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The statue will stand 18 feet in front of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium near Martin Luther King Jr Drive. It will be unveiled in October.

According to the Altanta Black Star newspaper, Watson — who migrated to the Georgia capital 18 years ago — called it a “great honour” to be selected from 80 other applicants.

“Martin Luther King, Jr is definitely one of the great human beings of the 20th century, and I grew up when he was in his prime, so I experienced a lot of his impact,” Watson was quoted as saying.

“My father painted a portrait of [King] in 1969 when he was at Spelman (College), so there were kind of serendipitous qualities of the whole thing…It is humbling,” he continued.

The Jamaican-born artist is one of the most renowned black scultpors in Atlanta so it’s no surprise that he was chosen for the project. His ‘Cradle-Future in our Hands’ is on display at the Neighborhood Union Health Center in Vine City, Atlanta.

In his home country of Jamaica, he is the hands behind several major statues, including monuments of sprinters Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Merlene Ottey, Herb McKenley, Asafa Powell and Veronica Campbell-Brown, all at the National Stadium.

Last year, his monument of Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett-Coverley was unveiled in Gordon Town, St Andrew. Another statue of Usain Bolt, to be erected his hometown of Falmouth, Trelawny, later this year, was also done by Watson.

Watson was awarded the Order of Distinction (Commander Class) in 2016 by the Jamaican government.

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