Chatman told a large crowd Friday that she ran into the young men outside a local drug store back in 2014. Somehow, the discussion between Chatman and the young men turned to King and they seemed to have no idea who he was. Chatman was determined at that point to find some way to help King’s legacy live on in Rome. The unveiling of the massive monument was the fruition of her dream.
Chatman led the crowd in the recitation of words from King, “When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love.”
Retired Rome city manager John Bennett said the long fund-raising effort to create the monument was a labor of love for the committee members. Chatman chaired the group which also included Bennett, Elaine Snow, Alva Battey, Norris Allen Sr., John Mayes, JoAnne Dulaney and Robert Noble.
Bennett told a large crowd that gathered for the unveiling of the monument that personnel from Elberton said it took nine months for them to find a piece of granite with no flaws that would be large enough for the monument.
“He opened the door for racial equality and justice for all and we continue to work on that today,” Bennett said. “It is something that will probably continue forever.”
The monument itself has King’s immortal phrase, ‘I have a dream’ inscribed prominently along with a reminder of his commitment to the civil rights movement and the fact that he received a Nobel Peace prize for his body of work.