Unifi employees visit famed Dr. King sculpture, discuss his legacy and their own dreams

Members of Unifi's Black Employee Resource Group visit the "Hope Moving Forward" sculpture of Dr. King in downtown Atlanta.

On a crisp, windy day in Atlanta, members of Unifi’s Black Employee Resource Group, BEAM (Black Employees and Allies in Motion), visited the city’s “Hope Moving Forward” sculpture ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. The 18-foot bronze statue crafted by Jamaican artist Basil Watson is a stunning sight depicting Dr. King in a forward-leaning pose releasing a dove, symbolizing his vision for progress, equality and peace.

It was everyone’s first time seeing the sculpture, and it didn’t disappoint.

“I’ve lived in Atlanta now for two-and-a-half years, and I didn’t know it was there, so I think it’s important we all know about it and tell others,” says Administrative Assistant D’Aaron Ennis.

That knowledge is more important than ever, according to Bre Campbell. “Especially right now when you see places trying to erase that history or not teach it fully, we need to learn and remember Dr. King’s word and what he stood for,” says the Atlanta Station Manager.

The city of Atlanta is a civil rights mecca and the place Dr. King called home. Dr. King was born in Atlanta and was the pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, a short walk from the home he was born and grew up in. On that same street is also the final resting place of Dr. King and Coretta Scott King.

“This is an extraordinary city,” says Khadijah Mbai, Shared Service Center Manager who also leads BEAM. “I didn’t see Black leadership until I came to Atlanta. Yes, there’s inequity and poverty just like in any other place, but you also see Black people thriving, making money and being successful. You don’t see that in every city or town in America, and that’s also part of Dr. King’s lasting legacy and impact in Atlanta.

Today, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, which includes the birth home and final resting place, attracts one million visitors annually.
“He had a dream and risked it all for that dream – he risked his safety and his family’s safety to open others’ minds and make society better. It is incredible when you think about his life and sacrifices,” says Operations Support Manager Sabrina Robinson.

“He was thrown in jail more than 20 times,” adds Esha Khicha, HR Business Management Analyst. “But he never gave up, and it makes me think about the challenges he faced and the strength he had to keep going. If he could do it then, there is nothing we can’t accomplish now.”

That resilience, says D’Aaron, is especially inspiring to him. “As a Black man in America, there is a lot you go through, so much that holds you back, but he pushed back against anyone and anything that tried to hold him down,” says D’Aaron. “That we are sitting here today and talking about him is monumental.”

Members of Unifi’s Black Employee Resource Group visit the “Hope Moving Forward” sculpture of Dr. King in downtown Atlanta.

King’s resolve and commitment to creating change through nonviolence is a hallmark of his legacy and something the group says our world needs more than ever.

“He never wavered on peace. It was about marching peacefully, protesting peacefully, and not rising to hate coming their way,” says Khadijah. “He didn’t want the message to get lost in the mess.”

Today, close to one hundred years after the birth of Dr. King, the world looks vastly different and, in many ways, significantly better thanks to the work of Dr. King and other civil rights heroes, yet there is so much more people can do to create communities that live up to Dr. King’s dream.

For the Unifi employees who gathered at this statue, following their own dreams is part of accomplishing Dr. King’s.

“My dream is for my kids, to watch them make their dreams come true and see them happy.” -Sabrina.

“My dream is for a world where people aren’t hurting each other so much – physically and emotionally.”- Esha.

“My dream is for a world where everybody is loved and respected, and we don’t judge how others live their life.” – D’Aaron.

“My dream is for us all to be driven by love for one another. I think about our Unifi values too – find your integrity and empathy and let that guide you.” – Khadijah.





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