Alum Helped Realize MLK Memorial
January 17, 2012
By Chris Lechuga
On Aug. 28, 1963, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. delivered one of the most significant public addresses in American history as he stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Nearly 50 years after the I Have a Dream speech, a movement to forever commemorate the historic event and honor the man who spearheaded the national civil rights movement came to fruition with help from Robert Wingo, advertising executive and an alumnus of The College of Business Administration at The University of Texas at El Paso.
Wingo, as a member of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project, played an instrumental role in helping create the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial that was dedicated Oct. 16, 2011, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The monument, located on the northwest corner of the Tidal Basin, features a 30-foot statue of King in the middle of a plaza that contains inscriptions of his most famous quotes along its walls and is surrounded by cherry blossom trees.
"It was a thrill of a lifetime to be involved in something as momentous as building this memorial for Dr. King," Wingo said. "It's a humbling experience to participate at that level."
Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, of which Wingo is a member, initiated the movement in the late 1990s to honor King, one of its most prestigious brothers. In the early years, the group sought public, corporate and Congressional support for the $120 million project.
Wingo, president and chief executive officer of El Paso-based Sanders/Wingo Advertising Agency, became involved in 2001 when he helped organize one of the first benefit dinners in El Paso to raise funds and support for the monument in the region. The successful event netted nearly $100,000 toward the project and helped the 1973 UTEP graduate and 2002 Gold Nugget Award recipient to be named to the memorial's Board of Directors in 2004.
Maceo Dailey, Ph.D., associate professor of history and director of the African-American Studies Program at UTEP, praised Wingo for his contributions that helped make the memorial a reality. He described the monument as a symbol of King's life and his role in the country's history.
"It's paramount," Dailey said. "It's a monument that is testimonial to 20th century America as it moved to become a more democratic nation."