Broken Obelisk returns in time for MLK Day

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HOUSTON — A celebration to mark the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a welcoming back to the “Broken Obelisk” to it’s home at the Rothko Chapel.

“This sculpture, and this place, is to be living and not a place to be dusted off periodically. But a place that would live in perpetuity in the hearts and the minds, the feet and the actions of the people of Houston and beyond,” Rothko Chapel Executive Director David Leslie said.

In 1969, the De Menils offered up half the cost to bring artist Barnett Newman’s sculpture the “Broken Obelisk” to Houston and place it near city hall. Along with that offer came the demand that it be dedicated to the civil rights leader who had been killed just the year before.

When the city accepted both the art and the placement, but not the dedication, the de Menils retracted their offer. Instead they bought the sculpture outright, dedicated it to the late Dr. King and placed here at the Rothko.

“His life was a life of action. The Rothko Chapel and the de Menils who wanted to invest in a place of peace and solace, and this obelisk, that represents that peace and security now comes together on the day, January 15th his birthday,” a Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democratic Congresswoman from the 18th District said.

“If we truly believe in what he lived for, and we truly want to honor his legacy. We ought to be willing to admit that battle is far from over with,” Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis said.

And award-winning writer Leonard Pitts Jr. closed with a call to action.

“We have spent a lot of time talking and sort of resting on the laurels of the civil rights movement. I think it’s time to spend a little less time talking and a little bit more time putting action to that talk,” Pitts said.

Because perhaps the best way to honor a man like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is not only to remember his life’s work, but to continue it so that his dream becomes our reality.