Bust of MLK to be displayed in library lobby

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published March 25, 2015

 Artist James Spearman unveils his bust of Martin Luther King Jr. at the annual MLK Peace Walk and Celebration in the Southfield Pavillion Jan. 20. The bust will be placed in the Southfield Public Library.

Artist James Spearman unveils his bust of Martin Luther King Jr. at the annual MLK Peace Walk and Celebration in the Southfield Pavillion Jan. 20. The bust will be placed in the Southfield Public Library.

File photo by Donna Agusti

SOUTHFIELD — The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is slated to live on in the lobby of the Southfield Public Library as a sculpture of him will soon be on display. 

The bust was created by artist and former Southfield resident James Spearman. The bronze piece will sit on a pedestal that is set to arrive at the library soon, according to City Librarian David Ewick. The sculpture was unveiled at the MLK Peace Walk and Celebration in the Southfield Pavillion Jan. 20.

Spearman, who now lives in Columbia, Tennessee, is the former owner of an art gallery in Lathrup Village called Dell Gallery.

The bust, Spearman said, is a re-creation of one he created several years ago and was commissioned by the MLK Task Force for Southfield residents.

According to Dorothy Dean, president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Task Force, this is the first tribute to the activist of its kind in Southfield. 

“We think this is historical,” Dean said. “It’s the first permanent structure in honor of Dr. King in the city of Southfield,” she said.

Hopefully, Dean said, the sculpture will educate people about King’s life.

“We are thrilled it’ll be in the library because the youth will get to visit and see what he was all about,” Dean said.

Spearman said he was honored to create the bust.

“I am simply elated,” Spearman said. “I am 77 years old, and this is the biggest thing to happen to me in quite a while.”

Spearman, a follower of King, said the idea to create the original bust hatched after the death of King in 1968.

“After he was killed, I got the idea. I thought something would be nice in remembrance of him, and that’s what inspired me, because I did follow his crusade,” Spearman said.

An original sculpture of King’s likeness in clay was created based on photos in magazines, Spearman said. Eventually, three plaster pieces were made from the clay sculpture.

A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Spearman said he was attending Wayne State University when he discovered his love of art. Originally an electrical engineering major, he decided to change his course after taking an art elective.

“Maybe I was looking for an easy way out, but then I liked it so much I decided to major in art,” Spearman said.

Dean said several groups had a hand in funding the bust, such as the Southfield Education Association and a handful of local sororities.

An official date for when the bust will be unveiled at the library had not been set at press time.