El Centro Unveils Bronze Bust of Martin Luther King Jr.

by Susan Fried

El Centro de la Raza to unveiled and dedicated a bust of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Plaza Roberto Maestas on Feb. 1, the first day of Black History Month. The bust was a gift from the sculpture Jeff Day.

The program included several speakers including the Rev. Dr. Robert L. Jeffrey Sr., who gave the invocation, King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, Roxana Amaral, the President of El Centro de la Raza’s Executive Committee, and Estela Ortega, the Executive Director of El Centro de la Raza.

In her remarks before the unveiling of the bust of Dr. King, Ortega said that when El Centro was founded 46 years ago that, the founders knew very little about MLK, but once they began to read and study his book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community” they  began to understand, how profound Dr. King was. She said, “The study of Dr. King’s teachings, more than any other single influence, helped El Centro de la Raza grow into much more than another social service organization.”

El Centro de la Raza, which refers to itself as “The Center for People of All Races” promotes many of the ideals King spoke about; their mission statement says “As an organization grounded in the Latino community, our mission is to build unity across all racial and economic sectors, to organize, empower, and defend our most vulnerable and marginalized populations and to bring justice, dignity, equality, and freedom to all the peoples of the world.  El Centro De la Raza strives to attain King’s vision of a the beloved community.”

“Understanding that Dr. King had an agenda for social change can help shed light on the organizing essentials of today so the teachings of Dr. King are still relevant to our struggles,” Ortega said. “The agenda is grounded in the beloved community, a community free of poverty, racism, militarism and violence.  We will continue to learn from him, we will never let him be seen as just a dreamer, we will defend his message and tell the truth of who Dr King was, first and foremost a fighter for Justice.”

Before stepping outside in the rain to unveil the bronze bust Ortega thanked the sculpture, Jeff Day and said, “Those who walk in this plaza will reflect and be inspired by Dr. King’s presence, the words of the beloved community above, will resound even louder keeping Dr. King alive.”

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Artist Jeff Day poses in front of the bronze bust of Martin Luther King Jr. he donated to be placed at Plaza Roberto Maestas at El Centro de la Raza on Beacon Hill. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Students from El Centro de la Raza’s José Martí Child Development Center sing a song about heroes Feb. 1 before the unveiling of a bronze bust of Martin Luther King Jr. in Plaza Roberto Maestas. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Community activist Eddie Rye Jr. listens to the speeches before the official unveiling of a bronze bust of Martin Luther King Jr. Feb. 1 in Plaza Roberto Maestas at El Centro de la Raza. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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El Cento de la Raza Executive Director Estela Ortega acknowledges the work of civil rights activists like Eddie Rye Jr. and King County member Larry Gossett during the unveiling of a bronze bust of Martin Luther King Jr. by artist Jeff Day, Feb. 1 in Plaza Roberto Maestas at El Centro de la Raza. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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The Reverend Dr. Robert L. Jeffrey Sr. delivers the invocation Feb. 1 before the official unveiling of a bronze bust of Martin Luther King Jr. in Plaza Roberto Maestas at El Centro de la Raza. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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A student from from El Centra de la Raza’s José Martí Child Development Center gives Council member Larry Gosset a card the students made honoring heroes during a ceremony Feb. 1 to unveil a bronze bust of Martin Luther King Jr. in Plaza Roberto Maestas, at El Cento. (Photo: Susan Fried)

Featured Photo: Community members celebrate after a bronze bust of Martin Luther King Jr., donated by artist Jeff Day (on right in hat and plaid shirt), is unveiled Feb. 1 in Plaza Roberto Maestas at El Centro de la Raza. (Photo: Susan Fried)

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