Julianna Roosevelt and Ambassador Shabazz. Photo by Ken A. Epstein.
Detail of “Remember Them: Champion of Humanity” sculpture. Shown are (clockwise from top: Nelson Mandela, Shirin Ebadi ,Susan B. Anthony , Malcolm X, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Abraham Lincoln. (Inside, clockwise from top) Elie Wiesel, César Chávez, Sir Winston Churchill. Photo by Ken A. Epstein.
By Ken A. Epstein
Completed in stages over the last 12 years, a massive bronze sculpture installation in Oakland depicting global and local humanitarians is finally done.
The “Remember Them: Champions for Humanity” memorial, a vision of celebrated local artist Mario Chiodo, was dedicated Friday afternoon at the Henry J. Kaiser Park on 19th Street near the Fox Theater in downtown Oakland.
The bronze with cast stone base sculpture measures 52-feet long and 25-feet high, covers 1,000-square-feet and is in four sections weighing over 60,000 pounds.
The monument is the largest bronze on the West Coast and a unique monument in the country dedicated to civil rights.
Joining the celebration were relatives of some of the humanitarians whose images are depicted in the sculpture: Ambassador Shabazz, the eldest of six daughters of Malcolm X; and Julianna Roosevelt, the granddaughter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“I was very moved by the dedication and the passion that Mario Chiodo has invested in this project,” said Shabazz in an interview with the Post. Based in New York City, she is a writer and producer and travels widely as a speaker.
Shabazz said she was impressed by the “uniqueness of the cross section” of those whose likenesses became part of Chiodo’s artwork. “It comes from the heart of this man who exposed that these people have so much in common,” she said.
Besides Malcolm X and President Roosevelt, the monument contains likenesses of Joaquin Miller, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Harvey Milk, “Mother” Mary Ann Wright and Fred Korematsu, an Oakland native who went to the Supreme Court to challenge the detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
Others who were depicted include César Chávez, Chief Joseph, Oskar Schindler, Mahatma Gandhi, Frederick Douglass, Maya Angelou, Susan B. Anthony, Thich Nhat Hahn and Martin Luther King Jr.
Chiodo was inspired by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to create the memorial, installing section by section in the park since September 2011.
Juliana Roosevelt, who lives and works in the Los Angeles area as a designer for a firm that does landscape architecture, told the Post what she learned from the memorial.
“It was a moving experience for me – because of my personal legacy,” she said. “(Chiodo) brought together humanitarians from all walks of life and different cultures. He’s found the common thread – human rights – that unites all of us. “
In the faces shown in the sculpture, Roosevelt said, “He creates an intimacy that allows us to view a little of what they faced, what we all face, and glimpse a little of their soul.”