DU’s artistic influence extends well beyond downtown Denver. In City Park, for example, a memorial statute of Martin Luther King Jr. is the handiwork of alumnus Ed Dwight (MFA ’77).
The granite and bronze memorial was installed in 2002, replacing another statue of King that was relocated to Pueblo. Dwight’s tribute to the civil rights leader features a handful of influential icons—Frederick Douglass, Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks and Sojourner Truth—who inspired King and paved the way for his contributions to the global movement for human rights.
Dwight was an Air Force pilot and the first Black man trained to become an astronaut. He also was an engineer, private pilot, developer, owner of several businesses and a restaurateur with a successful chain of barbecue joints called Rib Cage. His time at DU helped launch a decades-long sculpting career that wrought 129 famous monuments, more than 18,000 gallery pieces and the artistic immortalization of the inauguration of America’s first Black president. Most recently, Dwight was the Commencement speaker at the spring 2022 ceremony for graduate students.
Photos by Wayne Armstrong