GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (WXMI) – Since 2011, a monument has stood in downtown Washington honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
It took years to make.
One of the architects involved says that his Grand Rapids education was a building block for success.
“I consider working on the Martin Luther King Memorial very rewarding projects as a designer, and I couldn’t believe they were paying me to do this,” said Marshall Purnell, who is a There is also Ottawa Hills High School. Alumni.
He participated in the late 60s and even played point guard on Bengal’s state championship basketball team in ’68.
But beyond his professional work on the monument, he also has a personal relationship with King.
The weekend after his assassination, Purnell was chosen to recite an original poem at a remembrance parade in Grand Rapids.
A photo of that moment ran in the Sunday paper.
“And I tell people, this is the day I grew up. That day I understood the power of the spoken word,” said Purnell.
Stephanie Andrews with the Grand Rapids Public Schools Foundation told WXYZ sister station FOX 17, “I am so grateful that, you know, especially on this wonderful day of celebration and remembrance of Dr. King that we have someone Someone who has such a close connection and who has done something so amazing and came through our Grand Rapids Public School routes.
Purnell earned a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Michigan, which began his four-decade-long career.
His projects include the Washington Convention Center and the Washington National Airport.
In 2006, Purnell became the first African American president of the American Institute of Architects.
He is currently teaching at North Carolina State University.