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

December 8th, 2013
President invited to dedication of MLK, LBJ sculpture

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President Obama and members of the King and Johnson families are among special guests on the invitation list for the unveiling in January of a sculpture honoring civil rights pioneers President Lyndon B. Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr. in downtown San Marcos.

A detail rendering of Hussey’s Crossroads sculpture shows how an image of the two men and virtues associated with their leadership will be cast as shadows on the floor of the memorial. ILLUSTRATION by AARON P. HUSSEY

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The Crossroads Memorial sculpture, designed by Baton Rouge, La.-based artist Aaron Hussey, will sit at the southwest corner of South Lyndon Baines Johnson Drive and East Martin Luther King Drive, thought to be the only place in the United States where streets named for the two men intersect each other.

“The Crossroads Memorial sculpture is the dream of a group of San Marcos residents who believe that the historic partnership of Dr. King and President Johnson to advance civil rights should be remembered in the community where President Johnson gained his college education and early experience in leadership,” said Crossroads Committee chair Diann McCabe.

The community celebration will span two days.

On Jan. 19, a public reception will recognize local community leaders who helped integrate San Marcos and Hays County. The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the San Marcos Activity Center, 501 E Hopkins St.

Starting at 10 a.m. Jan. 20, as part of the annual observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the pubic will march from the Old Hays County Courthouse to the sculpture plaza a few blocks away. Following the sculpture’s dedication, the march will continue to the Dunbar Center for a “Peace Pie Social.”

Mayor Daniel Guerrero suggests there is a realistic chance that Obama will accept an invitation to speak at the event, which was originally planned for August but postponed because the sculpture was not completed on schedule.

“We originally invited President Obama last spring before the postponement and the White House immediately indicated a keen interest in the event,” Guerrero said. He said the event will be tailored to accommodate the president’s schedule if he is able to attend.

Baton Rouge, La.-based artist Aaron Hussey won a national competition to design the sculpture, which is inspired by a black-and-white photograph taken by White House photographer Yoichi R. Okamoto of Johnson and King leaning toward each other, deep in conversation, during a May 1966 meeting in the Oval Office. The previous year, Johnson had signed the Voting Rights of 1965 which prohibited literacy tests and other devices used to discourage black people from voting. That was a followup to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which Johnson signed in King’s presence after bulldozing the landmark legislation through a conservative U.S. Congress

Hussey’s design features two curved benches facing each other under an oval canopy etched with a layered mesh version of Okamoto’s photo. Light shining through the canopy will cast a shadow of the Johnson-King image that will move across the 248-square-foot plaza as the sun moves across the sky.

The San Marcos City Council voted to commission the sculpture in May 2012 on the recommendation of the LBJ-MLK Crossroads Memorial selection committee and the city’s Arts Commission and Parks & Recreation Board. Hussey’s design was chosen out of 54 entries.

The city dedicated $100,000 for the sculpture in addition to about $7,000 raised by the committee. Hays County donated the triangle-shaped parcel in the parking lot of what used to be the Hays County Justice Center.

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