Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. & Father Hesburgh Monument

Honoring civil rights leaders and creating a vibrant downtown destination

South Bend, IN Arts Community Placemaking

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City of South Bend is a tax-exempt government organization, Tax ID 35-6001201.


"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

“Be the kind of person who not only understands the injustices of this life, but is also willing to do something about them.” - Father Theodore Hesburgh

Honoring Civil Rights Gains & Creating a Sense of Place

In an effort to bring life and purpose to a mostly unused space downtown, the City of South Bend hopes to activate Leighton Plaza as a gathering place for dialog, recreation and reflection and to honor the life of civil rights leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and former president of the University of Notre Dame, Father Theodore Hesburgh. The City of South Bend plans to erect a monument depicting the famous photograph of Father Hesburgh and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holding hands while singing "We Shall Overcome" at a civil rights rally in Chicago in 1964. The monument, a life-size model of the two icons, will be interactive and allow the public to join the open hands of the two men. This monument will serve as a reminder of the history of civil rights gains and foster the pride South Bend has in its diversity and dedication to social justice.  Placed at the entrance of the plaza, the monument, in conjunction with other improvements, will help transform the space into a lively and engaging community gathering place that promotes unity and dialog. 

The Monument

The monument will be a 110% scale bronze sculpture of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Fr. Hesburgh standing hand in hand. It will be sculpted by local sculptor, educator and writer Tuck Langland whose work has appeared in hundreds of art shows and is on permanent display across the country and internationally.

The Impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Father Hesburgh

Needless to say, Martin Luther King Jr. had an immeasurable impact on this country, and is worthy of all the memorials and monuments dedicated to him worldwide. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister, activist, humanitarian and leader of the non-violent African American Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King was a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, as well as a recipient of both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Dr. King’s legacy has greatly transformed America; aside from his legal successes (such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968), Dr. King ignited the American people’s commitment to civil rights, equality and action. Since his death in 1968, countless social movements have sprung up following his non-violent methods in order to combat some kind of inequality or harm in our society. Dr. King taught Americans to stand up to injustice instead of standing idly by.

Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, fondly referred to as Fr. Ted by the students at the University of Notre Dame, was the president of the University from 1952 to 1987, a Holy Cross Priest and a nationally known civil rights leader. Besides his tremendous work at the University of Notre Dame,  Fr. Hesburgh worked closely with the Vatican, held 16 presidential appointments, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Lyndon Johnson and served as a member and chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, among many other historic contributions to the world. During his time as a member of the Civil Rights Commission, he has been acknowledged as the principal architect of the Civil Rights Act. Fr. Hesburgh passed away at the age of 97 in February 2015 having remained dedicated to human rights, Notre Dame and God his entire life.

Bringing Life to an Underutilized Space Downtown

Leighton Plaza is currently an underutilized asset in the center of downtown South Bend. To create a truly inviting place for residents and visitors of downtown to enjoy, the City of South Bend plans to introduce essential elements of good public space design in addition to installing the monument in the plaza. These include additional landscaping to introduce shade in the plaza and bistro seating to offer flexible seating opportunities for the public. In a second phase, the City will install a fountain in the center of the plaza. The monument will serve as more than just a piece of public art. The interactive aspect of the monument will invite the public to engage with the sculpture and reflect on issues of social justice and solidarity. A place that is primarily used as a walk through space currently will be activated into a lively spot for gathering, taking photos and interacting with the monument, enjoying the fountain and landscaping, and reflecting on our national and local history of civil rights. 

Help Make The Monument Happen

With the generous support of private donors, we have been able to start the sculpting of the monument, but we need your help to finish the project! Please consider donating to help make this project a reality in South Bend. If we meet our goal of $20,000, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Agency will match our funds. 

You can make your gift directly on this page by selecting a reward or clicking the support button. 

Payment can also be made via check. Please write checks out the City of South Bend and send to Jitin Kain at the following address:

227 W. Jefferson Blvd., Suite 1316 
South Bend, IN 46601

If you aren't able to contribute financially, help spread the word by sharing this page on social media and with friends and family! 


Campaign by:
Jitin Kain
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Give $10 or more

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Level 1

Receive a thank you note from our fundraising team!

Give $50 or more

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Level 2

Receive a special sponsor recognition and thank you message on the City of South Bend's social media sites!

Give $150 or more

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Level 3

A personalized brick inscribed with your choice of wording will be installed at Leighton Plaza.

Give $500 or more

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Level 4

Receive a framed photo with the Mayor at the ribbon cutting ceremony taken by a professional photographer.

Give $3500 or more

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Level 5

Receive an invitation to a donor recognition reception following the monument unveiling.

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