Spirals of Justice: Roy Wilkins Memorial by Curtis Patterson

"Spiral for Justice: Roy Wilkins Memorial" by Curtis Patterson"Spiral for Justice: Roy Wilkins Memorial" by Curtis Patterson"Spiral for Justice: Roy Wilkins Memorial" by Curtis Patterson"Spiral for Justice: Roy Wilkins Memorial" by Curtis Patterson"Spiral for Justice: Roy Wilkins Memorial" by Curtis Patterson"Spiral for Justice: Roy Wilkins Memorial" by Curtis Patterson

“Spirals of Justice” is a sculptural plaza created by Curtis Patterson in 1995 on the lawn of the Minnesota Capitol. It’s also known as the Roy Wilkins Memorial in honor of the civil rights leader and St. Paul native.

The sculpture is an odd assortment of barriers (walls, chains, etc.) and elements that rise above barriers (pyramids, spirals, obelisks, etc.). Of course my daughter walked right under the chain rope and unimpeded across the blocked off space, so I’m not sure if that symbolizes the fact that children (and short people, apparently) don’t see race or if that’s just a design flaw.

A sign in front of the plaza explains it like this:

The central element in this sculpture composition is a spiral. Its 46 elements represent the 46 years of Roy Wilkins’ dedicated leadership of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in its fight for social and economic justice for all Americans.

The walls symbolize barriers created by racial segregation and other efforts to impede the progress toward achieving equality. The spiral ascends above and through those walls.

The final element in the spiral is an obelisk adorned with an African reliquary, a reference to Africans honoring their ancestors. The reliquary is placed on axis with the Judiciary Building, which represents Mr. Wilkins’ commitment to justice for all.

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What do you think?