San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

January 13th, 2012
Competing LBJ/MLK memorial designs slated for Feb. 16 unveiling

Martin Luther King, Jr, left, and Lyndon Baines Johnson, right on March 18, 1966. PHOTO BY YOICHI R. OKAMOTO


The effort to establish a public memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Lyndon Baines Johnson in San Marcos will enter its next phase in February, when three artists/artist teams will arrive to compete for a contract to create the memorial.

The public is invited to meet the artists, view the designs, and offer comments between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the San Marcos Activity Center on Feb. 16.

The San Marcos City Council allocated $100,000 in hotel/motel tax dollars to the memorial, which is planned for construction on 248 square feet at the southwest corner of the LBJ/MLK Drive intersection.

“We believe San Marcos is unique in having streets commemorating President Johnson and Dr. King that actually intersect,” said San Marcos Mayor Daniel Guerrero. “The Crossroads Project will be a lasting monument to the significant contributions of both to the progress of civil rights in the United States.”

The Crossroads Committee, which has been working since 2008 to plan and raise funds for the memorial, received an additional $5,065 in donations from more than 50 contributors. The funds will be used for the artists’ stipends, travel, and lodging. The committee still needed funds to pay the artists’ travel costs and was seeking additional donations as of Jan. 11.

The three artists/artist teams under consideration are:

Joseph O’Connell and Blessing Handcock of Tucson, Arizona
Aaron P. Hussey of Baton Rouge, Louisiana
CoLAB Studios, LLC of Tempe, Arizona

A committee will choose one of the three finalists after evaluating public input and the artists’ designs. The committee includes Roger Colombik, Kevin Huffaker, Diann McCabe, Andrew Freeman, Oscar Hairell, Heather Powdrill, Robin Wood, Chris Jones, Linda Kelsey-Jones, Ed Mihalkanin, and Marty Stump.

An evaluation team chose the three finalists among 54 respondents to a request for qualifications issued by the City of San Marcos in the spring. The Crossroads Committee announced the identitities of the three finalists on Dec. 8.

Johnson graduated from Texas State University in 1930 when the school was known as Southwest Texas Normal College. Johnson’s college years in San Marcos are commemorated in the LBJ Museum of San Marcos on the Courthouse Square a couple of blocks from the intersection.

San Marcos’ African American heritage is celebrated in the Dunbar Historic District, the Johnnie Armstead Calaboose African American History Museum, and the developing Eddie Durham Park (named for the famed jazz musician), all of which are located on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.

Celebrating the Hispanic culture of San Marcos is the Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos, which is located at the corner Lee Street and South LBJ Drive on the other arm of the intersecting crossroads.

“The LBJ-MLK intersection is truly a crossroads,” said Diann McCabe, chair of the Crossroads Committee. “The crossroads link two significant leaders who changed the history of our nation and connect historic neighborhoods of our community. And in the future, this area will connect light rail to the downtown and the university.”

According to the city’s request for qualifications document, the planned memorial is intended to:

• Commemorate the legacies of LBJ and MLK, in their separate and collaborative efforts to forge national civil rights legislation.
• Provide a place of rest and reflection.
• Reflect the local significance of LBJ as the only U.S. president to graduate from a Texas
university (namely, Texas State University, then Southwest Texas State Teachers College).
• Celebrate the historic background and the cultural and ethnic diversity of the community.

According to the project’s request for qualifications, the city’s preferred memorial designs would include:

• An installation that is not overly representational, but may include photographic and/or sculptural representations
• Inspirational quotations
• Seating
• Shade (could be created by landscaping)
• Cultural appeal for all ages and backgrounds
• A drinking fountain (as a symbol and practical element)
• An enclosure away from the traffic (could be created by landscaping)
• Circles and spheres generally preferred over rectangles and cubes

For more information about the Crossroads Project, contact City of San Marcos Recreation Programs Manager Lisa Morris at (512) 393-8409.


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