Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s mission in life was to overcome racism and discrimination through nonviolent means and connect people of all races and backgrounds in peace. He was extremely instrumental in building bridges and bringing people together. He gave his life in the seemingly never-ending pursuit of civil rights and equality.
Fort Wayne can count itself as the first city to dedicate a bridge to MLK. This may be surprising, but Derek King Sr., Dr. King’s nephew, confirmed it at the bridge’s dedication. Mayor Tom Henry also said that the old bridge was dedicated to Dr. King, but few people knew it.
This bridge is special beyond its dedication to one of the most famous civil rights activists. Its a gateway to our lovely downtown area. The bridge connects Clinton Street across Fort Wayne and beyond as it turns into US 27.
Remodeling wasn’t only for safety, but as a part of our city’s Downtown Improvement initiative. A movement whose goal is to bring life back into Downtown Fort Wayne and show that our beloved city can be just as beautiful and exciting as any other big city around us.
Dr. King’s bridge has some pretty unique features that no other bridge in town can come close to. For instance, the awesome LED lights can be controlled right from the mayor’s desk. He can change them into a variety of different color schemes and patterns— he has over 16 million choices! Here’s something you might be surprised to know, those beautiful arches are just decoration. They offer no architectural support. That comes from the pipes underneath the bridge.
DLZ is the company commissioned to remodel the tribute bridge. Laurie Johnson, VP of Marketing, thinks that the bridge was fitting for Dr. King because of his work in building bridges between people, while working to overcoming racism.
As you remember Dr. King on this day, either at work, on break from school, or performing a social or charitable good for someone else, think about how far we have come from the turbulent times Dr. King was working.
Think about the progress, we as a nation and people have made in terms of civil rights and overcoming issues like racism.
As you ponder this, maybe take a drive or walk across Dr. King’s bridge and watch the pretty lights in downtown Fort Wayne.
Photo by Tony Frantz