The city of Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission has composed and sent off both the final national and local nominations to be added to a civil rights memorial, with records dating back to the 1890s.
During the meeting on Sept. 14, commission Vice Chair Crys Waddell said the Civil Rights Memorial Taskforce is awaiting a response from the city of Phoenix regarding the exact verbiage to go on the plaque.
“We are still on schedule. We have diligently met and got everything done, we’re just waiting for the response and moving forward on getting everything perfect, and the wording correct to fit on the memorial,” Waddell said.
In May, Phoenix announced it wanted public opinions on what should be added to the Civil Rights Memorial at 16th and Jefferson streets in Eastland Park.
The city reportedly asked constituents in an online survey, “What are the most significant national/local civil rights milestones to you between 2000 and 2020?”
According to the city website, the Civil Rights memorial was created in 1997 by artists Ronn Turner and Shannon Owen. It includes a timeline of significant civil rights events, legislation, and milestones of each decade.
The memorial also includes students’ poetry and input regarding civil rights on the outer sides of the sculpture. The panels for each decade sit on the sides of a spear or rocket-shaped piece of metal, with abstract designs on the top, and a plaque labelled, “Peace” at the front.
Earlier this year, the commission selected six Arizona events and six national events to add to the monument.
Waddell said the memorial is on track to be unveiled in January 2022. The Civil Rights Memorial Task Force includes commission board members from the Arts and Culture Commission, as well as the city’s Human Relations Commission. Waddell and Karolyn Benger are co-chairs of the Civil Rights Memorial Taskforce.
Waddell holds the Arts and Culture Commission Vice Chair position, and is a resident of District 8, which covers south and southeast Phoenix, such as areas including Central City Village and part of South Mountain Village.
Waddell’s position stands intact, as she was reelected to be commission vice chair for the next term during the meeting on Sept. 14. Her next term officially starts in October; each is one year long.
“Thank you Crys for being beside me through alot of those decisions, and pulling it together,” said Mike Oleskow, Arts and Culture Commission Chair. “Thank you for really spearheading this for the commission, for us. I know it wasn’t always easy and it’s additional time that you're
taking out of your busy schedule in order to put this together and we really do appreciate it.”
Oleskow will serve as commission chair until October, when he will be succeeded by Jack Schwimmer. Oleskow will then serve as a commission member. The city of Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission currently consists of 15 members, appointed by the City Council, with three
“I really do appreciate you guys voting me in again as your Vice Chair for the commission for the following year,” Waddell said. “Mike, just know that you will be missed. You’ve done an amazing job in leading us, especially through this changing time that changed the world, so I felt
like you did a great job.”
Alexia Hill is a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.