On December 17 at 10:00am, Burlington Recreation and Parks’ North Park will host an “Unveiling & Dedication” ceremony to reveal its newest addition, a bust of Dr. Martin Luther King situated atop a 46 inch stone base and located near the entrance to the Mayco Bigelow Community Center. An inscribed plaque reading “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Born Jan. 15, 1929, Died Apr. 4, 1968” identifies the monument. This stunning tribute to Dr. King was designed and erected by Eagle Scout Justin Morrison as his Eagle project for troop 39 of Burlington’s Macedonia Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Morrison is a senior at Walter Williams High School and has been involved with the Boy Scouts of America since he was in 1st grade and a member of Cub Scout pack 39. When determining what he would give his community as his Eagle Scout project, Morrison thought about what an Eagle project represented. “An Eagle project is a big thing,” Morrison said “it puts the troop out there for the community and helps people grow to want to do big things. Dr. King is a big thing and Eagle Scouting is too. Putting them together is a good commemoration.”
The reveal of his finished Eagle Project will mark the end of an arduous yet rewarding process for Morrison. Planning for the project began nearly two years ago as he identified his desire to pay tribute to Dr. King with the design and construction of a statue. Before Morrison could get started he had to approach the Recreation and Parks Commission with the proposal on two separate occasions. Once approval was granted from the Commission to place a statue on Burlington Recreation and Parks’ property, Morrison had to seek approval from the Burlington City Council, and during the January 18, 2011 City Council meeting Morrison received the approval he needed to construct his memorial to Dr. King at North Park. Funding for the project was secured through Morrison’s own fundraising efforts.
Morrison’s creation of the bust was guided by local sculptor Jim Barnhill. Mr. Barnhill not only led Morrison through the basics of sculpting, but generously donated his time and efforts to do so. Morrison and Barnhill used a dyed concrete mixture from which to sculpt the bust. After completion of the sculpture, Morrison and his father constructed a column in front of the Mayco Bigelow Center at North Park on which to place the bust. After many months of work, the project reached completion in late November.
“Justin and his family have done a wonderful job” raves Recreation and Parks Director Tony Laws. Mayco Bigelow Community Center Director, William Gattis is also thrilled with Justin’s project. He hopes that the project will not only be a lasting visual monument to Dr. King, but also an impetus for the enrichment and education of future generations about his work. Gattis hopes to implement educational contests and opportunities associated with the memorial for students at neighboring Eastlawn and Andrews elementary schools in order to raise awareness about Dr. Martin Luther King and his work during the Civil Rights movement.
After Morrison graduates from Williams High School in the spring of 2012, he plans to enroll in a four-year university where he will continue his education. He is considering a career as a civil engineer.