Eastpointe residents group moves forward with equality statue

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published December 4, 2020

 The Eastpointe City Council recently approved plans for a statue at Kennedy Park that was put forward by Eastpointe Advocates Supporting Equality.

The Eastpointe City Council recently approved plans for a statue at Kennedy Park that was put forward by Eastpointe Advocates Supporting Equality.

Image provided by Mary Hall-Rayford

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EASTPOINTE — A new statue celebrating equality has been approved for installation in Eastpointe’s Kennedy Park.

The project came about through the efforts of Eastpointe Advocates Supporting Equality, a citizens group aiming to foster communication, harmony and diversity in the community.

“In the city of Eastpointe, a diverse group of residents have been working to get approval from the City Council to install a sculpture in Kennedy Park as a lasting symbol of the city’s diversity,” Mary Hall-Rayford, one of the leaders of EASE, said in an email. “Before approaching City Council, we spoke with the Chair of the Parks Commission and met him at the park to discuss the possible location as well as to get his input. ... We have engaged a renowned metal artist to provide us with a sketch that we could use in a presentation to the Parks Commission, and they overwhelmingly supported the idea with a unanimous vote.”

EASE members brought the issue to the City Council several months ago, but they were told that input was needed from both the city’s Arts and Cultural Diversity Commission and the Planning Commission.

The issue was discussed by the City Council again Nov. 17, and plans for the statue were unanimously approved.

“Eastpointe Advocates Supporting Equality are ready to start fundraising for this magnificent project, designed to bring unity to the community and (which) should be a lasting testament to the inclusiveness of the community, an effort by the residents for the residents of Eastpointe,” wrote Hall-Rayford.

The completed monument will be approximately 5 feet tall with a circumference of 18 feet that includes space for benches surrounding the monument and a flowerbed at the bottom. EASE also hopes to include a mural created by a local artist that further promotes acceptance.

The statue will be created by artist Michael Sizemore. Sizemore had worked with Eastpointe’s city manager, Elke Doom, in the past at one of her previous jobs in West Virginia.

“The project began with some sketches Mary (Hall-Rayford) sent me about a month and a half ago,” explained Sizemore. “It will be eight hands forming a unity circle, and from a distance it looks like a giant multicolored sun. In the center of it is a circle with two hands coming together in a handshake and a glass flower that’s being cast by an artist at the Ford Museum. It’s made out of steel, and we will powder coat everything to finish it. The base will be chrome coated. It will be very durable since it’s an outdoor project.”

He was pleased to have been approached to create a project about a subject close to his heart.

“My anticipation is that the first impression will be that it’s impressive and when you look closer at it, it brings home that message of unity and coming together for the greater good,” said Sizemore. “I try to bring people together with my art.”

He has all of his plans in place and is prepared to begin building the statue once funding is secured.

“We are at the approval of sketches and colors stage,” he said. “It’s in the hands of the EASE team, who is working on fundraising. They got their permission from the City Council, which was the other big step they had to take. I’m excited to get started on this.”

The estimated cost of the project is $30,000. EASE had previously hoped for an unveiling in the spring of 2021. That date has been moved back to secure enough funding. Hall-Rayford expressed some frustration at the slow pace of the project’s approval.

“We have followed procedures and have done what has been asked of us. Now we are wondering why all the ‘red tape’ for a monument representing unity and diversity of a community?” she wrote. “We understand that this is in fact new and something that has never been done before so there may be some misunderstanding or concern. This is a project for the people, designed by the people (with artist assistance), and it will be paid for by the people. There will be no city funding requested by us.”

She added that whatever it takes, the project will be worth it and she believes it will add something new and needed in the Eastpointe community.

“The project is something new for the community, a ‘gift’ of art that will stand for peace, unity, and inclusion,” Hall-Rayford wrote. “It has been conveyed that City Council wanted feedback from the residents. We welcome any and all feedback and we encourage people to join us in this good work.”

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