It will never happen without effort. Each hand print represents the brave individuals that have gone before. Down "mainstreet", the center to the park, action is represented as the visitor stretches their hands out to fit into a pair of concrete prints, one on each side of the divide. The foot soldiers would often touch hands or link arms together. Here, visitors touch their handprints, their legacy and, as they stretch to touch both sides, they symbolically bridge the gulf and stand in solidarity with their honorable comrades. It is an acknowledgement that the work is incomplete and that the past we will always – be with us.
Equality and equal treatment under the law belongs to all Americans, to all of God's children. With this belief, the foot soldiers struggled, mostly namelessly, anonymously, and uncelebrated.
Duality, estranged equals standing together in time, is the major premise. The raw, rusted iron plate is oxidized to the hue of the blood representing the blood that is spilt in all of humanities great struggles. Twenty-eight vertical, overlapping plates create an etched timeline of key moments in the civil-rights movement. The towers have cascading water on all three sides for the tears and sweat that the foot soldiers endured in abundance. It gently cascades over the plate steel and the concrete, promising that the oxidation will increase over time.
Main inscriptions on interior panels anoymously quote President Obama (right) and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth (left). One public servant. One private citizen. One in the deep past. One from the time of the memorials erection. Both, calls to action then and now.
Detail of an interior panel showing hanprints and engraving with water cascading down the face. The handprints beg for interaction, inviting visitors to put their own hands in the prints. They become willing participants, foot soldiers themselves, experienceing the tears and, perhaps, sheding their own.