Artist completes 'Champions For Humanity' sculpture

May 30, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
On Friday the city of Oakland will dedicate a unique monument that's more than a decade in the making. You may have seen bits and pieces of it before, but now this tribute to world heroes is complete.

You've never seen anything like this before -- a humongous and historic bronze monument. It's the largest on the West Coast and features 25 humanitarians, world leaders, activists from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Mother Theresa to Harvey Milk and Gandhi.

"The original idea was conceived literally on 9/11, when the twin towers were hit by the airplanes," said Mario Chiodo, a sculptor.

Chiodo, an Oakland native, is the artist behind the work which is called "Remember Them: Champions For Humanity".

"They were all selfless and if we become aware of that, maybe we can see ourselves as human beings rather than I'm the white race, the black race, the Asian race," said Chiodo.

Together the four sections weigh more than 40,000 pounds, measure 25 feet tall and take up 1,000 square feet of the Henry J. Kaiser Memorial Park. President Franklin Roosevelt sitting in his wheelchair comes alive for his great granddaughter.

"You can look into his eyes, as you can in every person in this sculpture, and really get a sense of their struggles, their commitments," said Julianna Roosevelt, Roosevelt's great granddaughter.

A special addition to the project are walls like that have smaller scale versions of the faces on the monument which allow the visually impaired to explore them.

Victoria Jones says her company, Clorox, donated to help cover the multi-million dollar cost of a work that really resonates with her.

"When I look at it, I think about the Civil Rights Movement, when I was coming up and visited Mississippi when you couldn't go to white bathrooms or those kinds of things. So for me, it's personal," said Jones.

Everything is now being readied for Friday's public celebration. Bart Frescura who helped with the project gets emotional just thinking about the impact this inspirational one-of-a-kind sculpture might have.

"I hope it brings people together," said Frescura.


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