South Bend Statue to Honor 'Father Ted,' MLK

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(Image courtesy of the University of Notre Dame) (Image courtesy of the University of Notre Dame)

Officials with the city of South Bend and the University of Notre Dame have announced plans for a new downtown monument dedicated to two leaders who Mayor Pete Buttigieg says had a "tremendous impact" on the northern Indiana city. The sculpture will depict a well-known scene featuring the late, longtime Notre Dame President Rev. Theodore Hesburgh and the late civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.

The life-sized, bronze statue will be funded through donations from Notre Dame, the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, Art Decio, Great Lakes Capital and Visit South Bend Mishawaka.

The moment that will be captured by the sculpture took place during a 1964 civil rights rally at Soldier Field in Chicago when the men joined hands and sung "We Shall Overcome" with a crowd of peaceful demonstrators.

Current Notre Dame President John Jenkins says "the iconic image of Dr. King and Fr. Hesburgh joined hand in hand is something Notre Dame and South Bend can be proud of together."

Hesburgh, or Father Ted as he was known, led Notre Dame from 1952-1987. Following his death, many top leaders in the state saluted Hesburgh as an inspirational global leader.

Buttigieg says "in these crucial times, our community is coming together to create a unifying and enduring monument. This monument will honor two great men, add character and beauty to our downtown and serve as a constant reminder of South Bend’s unique connections to America’s history of struggle and growth when it comes to inclusion and civil rights."

Local artist Ted Langland has been commissioned for the work, which is expected to be complete next summer.

It will be located at Leighton Plaza at 130 S. Main Street in the city's downtown, an area that is undergoing renovations as part of South Bend's Smart Streets initiative.

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