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Columbia Missourian

MU receives Martin Luther King Jr. replica statue from alumnus

By Jeong An Choi
January 29, 2013 | 6:41 p.m. CST
MU alumnus Ty Christian, a marketing consultant from Orlando, Fla., stands in front of a smaller replica sculpture of Martin Luther King Jr. on Tuesday after he donated it to Ellis Library. Christian has worked on Washington, D.C., Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Foundation Project as chief marketing strategist and helped raise $115 million. The foundation presented him with the statue for his contribution to the project. "I wanted to share this memorial and gift it to my alma mater," Christian said.

COLUMBIA — A crowd of suit-clad administrators gathered in Ellis Library on Tuesday afternoon attracted the attention of students relaxing in the Bookmark Cafe.

They had come to the library's west lobby from all around the city to celebrate the installment of a Martin Luther King Jr. replica statue donated by MU alumnus Ty Christian.

The two-foot-tall statue, a copy of the statue by Lei Yixin that stands in the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, was installed atop a shelf on the lobby's north wall.

“It would make no sense to have it sitting around my house,” Christian said with a smile. “But more importantly, I thought it was much bigger to share, be unselfish about it.”

Christian helped raise money for the D.C. Memorial as the chief marketing strategist for Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc., according to a news release from MU News Bureau.

Although he lives and works in Florida, Christian said he hopes to continue his relationship with MU in the future.

Volunteers from the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, including many local business owners, attended.

“We’re here because we love to celebrate the success of the community," Thomas Trabue, chair of the Chamber's Ambassadors program, said.

At a reception, Jim Cogswell, director of MU libraries, Noor Azizan-Gardner, MU chief diversity officer, and Chancellor Brady Deaton thanked Christian for the gift.

Deaton said MU would continue to honor Dr. King in every way possible.

Following his speech, Christian said he's pleased with the statue's location.

“The whole key to Dr. King is more about diversity,” Christian said. “Having it here at the library, more and more people are going to get a chance to see it.”