BOOKER T. WASHINGTON MONUMENT

The Program from the Dedication of the monument:

 Dedication of

The Booker T. Washington Memorial Garden
and
Unveiling of the Sculpture of
Booker T. Washington

11:00 A.M.
May 12, 1984
Hampton Institute
Hampton, Virginia

PROGRAM

Dr. William R. Harvey
President of the College
 Presiding

Invocation

The Reverend Michael A. Battle

College Chaplain

The Occasion

    Jeanne Zeidler 

Director, College Museum

The Life of Booker T Washington

 Michael E. Hucles 

Department of History, Philosophy and Religion

Remarks

 Henry E. Bryant 

Second Vice President, NHAA

Presentation

The Honorable Richard Bagley 

Delegate to the Virginia Legislature
 City of Hampton

Acceptance

The President

Unveiling and Dedication

Jeanne Zeidler 
Ed Hamilton
 Artist

Musical Selection
   "The Entertainer" - Scott Joplin

The Hampton Institute Symphonic Band
Sylvester Young

Director of College Bands

 

The Booker T. Washington Memorial

     The dream of creating a lasting memorial to Booker T Washington on the campus of Hampton Institute has been alive for a long time. Alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends of the college have fostered the idea of honoring Hampton's most distinguished and renowned graduate. Under the NHAA administration of Dr. Wendell Holmes, an alumni committee was established to further the idea.

     Aware of these feelings, the college president, Dr. William R. Harvey conceived of the concept of a statue and memorial garden. Dr. Harvey sought to create a visible, permanent, and fitting tribute which would reflect the historical impact of Washington, and the continuing respect for his work. The President envisioned a monumental outdoor sculpture to be installed in an appropriate campus location. Several locations were considered for the sculpture. Inspired by a suggestion from his wife, Norma Harvey, the President decided on the site on the east end of the campus, for it offered numerous advantages. In the heart of the campus' new academic complex, it is easily accessible to students and to visitors. It is in close proximity to the historic Emancipation Oak, and thus establishes a relationship between one of America's great educators and social activists, and the symbol of Black achievement in education. Additionally, the site was large enough to incorporate a meditation garden around the sculpture, and the completed memorial will enhance and beautify the area.

    Working with Hampton Delegate Richard Bagley, Dr. Harvey approached the Commonwealth of Virginia for funding to realize this memorial. Delegate Bagley's strong support coupled with the compelling nature of the project, resulted in an appropriation of $75,000 from the Virginia General Assembly during fiscal year 1982-83.

    During the spring of 1982, with funding assured, the architectural firm of Livas' Associates was engaged to develop plans for the garden. Dr. Harvey then conferred with the Director of the College Museum, Jeanne Zeidler, concerning the best method of identifying an artist to undertake the sculpture. The President decided to invite a small number of noted Black American artists to submit concepts for the commission. The alumni association committee, headed by Henry Bryant of Albany, Georgia, merged with the campus committee to advise and support the project.

    Many people, including Hampton art faculty, other artists, and museum professionals, were contacted for suggestions of appropriate sculptors. The strongest and most promising recommendation was made by Kenneth V Young, Senior Designer, Office of Exhibits Central, Smithsonian Institution. Based upon this recommendation, in January, 1983, Dr. Harvey invited Ed Hamilton of Louisville, Kentucky, to submit a concept. Hamilton responded in February with a concept for a realistic bronze sculpture to be approximately nine feet in height. The photographs and drawings submitted by the artist met with enthusiastic approval of Dr. Harvey, Mr. Bryant and the Administrative Council. In March, 1983, Dr. Harvey and Mr. Hamilton signed a contract for the commission and the creation of the work of art began.

    Early in April, 1983, Hampton Institute brought Mr. Hamilton to the campus. Prior to arriving in Hampton, the artist was supplied with the blueprints, drawings and plans developed by William Milligan of Livas' Associates for the entire memorial area. On April 5 and 6, Mr. Hamilton visited the site and conferred with Angle Owens, Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds; Dewey Wilson, Construction Manager; Lucius Wyatt, Vice President for Business Affairs and Treasurer; Mr. Milligan; and the Museum Director. Mr. Hamilton also met with Dr. Harvey to discuss the background and objectives of the project and matters related to implementation.

    Critically important to the development of the sculpture was capturing a likeness of Booker T Washington and ensuring historical accuracy. Assisted by Fritz Malval, Curator of Archives, Mr. Hamilton studied photographs of Washington from the collection of the Hampton Institute Archives. It became apparent that the pose the artist developed in his original concept was similar to Washington's stance in a photograph taken during his famous speech at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, September 18, 1893. The decision was made that this time period would be captured in the sculpture, with the photograph serving as inspiration for the pose. Additionally, Geraldine Bell, Superintendent of the Booker T Washington National Monument in Franklin County, Virginia, supplied the artist with photographs and sketches of the coat Washington wore during the Atlanta speech.

    For over a year, work has been on-going at Hampton to prepare the site of the memorial, while in Louisville the sculpture took shape. Mr. Hamilton began with the creation of a three foot scale model in clay to work through conceptual and structural problems. After approval of this stage, a nine foot clay model was constructed to serve as a mold for the bronze cast. To overcome the problems of increasing scale, Mr. Hamilton secured the services of an engineer who statistically calculated the proportions of the nine foot model using a computer. In March, 1984, the completed model was cut into segments and transported to a Detroit foundry for casting. Once cast, the work was assembled and finished by the artist, and shipped to Hampton for installation.

    Born in slavery in Franklin County, Virginia in 1856, Washington graduated from Hampton Institute in 1875. He returned to Hampton four years later to serve in a variety of positions. In 1881, he was selected to found Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. During the 34 years Washington was principal of Tuskegee, he achieved national recognition as a leader in education and as a spokesperson for the rights of Black Americans.

     Until his death in 1915, Washington remained in close contact with Hampton Institute, often crediting his experiences here as one of the most important influences on his life. Today, with the dedication of the Booker T. Washington Memorial Garden and unveiling of a major work of art, Hampton honors one of America's most significant historical figures. The memorial is a lasting tribute to the man, while also echoing Booker T Washington's own feelings as he expressed them in 1893:

 "Hampton. .. ours is a precious heritage."

Jeanne Zeidler

 

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