SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Monday is the day we honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Junior. Back in 1961, the civil rights leader made a stop in Sioux Falls.
A year ago on Martin Luther King Junior Day, Sioux Falls city leaders unveiled a life-sized sculpture of the civil rights icon.
Porter Williams is the sculptor behind this statue.
“When I started sculpting and learning about Black history, especially here in South Dakota, he was one of my main focuses, was Martin Luther King, and he is still today,” sculptor, Porter Williams said.
The sculpture is located in Van Eps Park which is near the same spot where King stayed during his visit to Sioux Falls.
“Sioux Falls in 1961 was full of racism, practicing discrimination, doing a lot of things when Martin Luther King came to Sioux Falls, matter of fact he spoke at the Cataract Hotel but he couldn’t stay there because they didn’t allow Black people to stay at that hotel and he actually stayed in a church that was back here, it was called St. John’s church,” Porter said.
More recently, this spot became a meeting place for some of the Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd.
“When they had that demonstration down here and when I turn and came down this ally, I saw those thousands of people standing down here for that demonstration, I’m still in awe of that, that that many white people would have or have anything to do with Black Lives Matter, and I’m still impressed with the outcome of that,” Porter said.
Williams hopes people remember the impact Martin Luther King had and continue to follow his dream to strive for a better future.
“What I would really hope is the unity of people, not only black people in Sioux Falls but white people,” Porter said. “I don’t want people to forget about the progress that we’ve made, they always want to bring up the bad things about Black people and never want to talk about the good things and I hope this is a good thing.”