Doc Interview: Creation of a Civil Rights Monument

Doc Interview: Creation of a Civil Rights Monument

November 8, 2017

Skidmore College is fortunate to be located in the Capital District of New York state, an area that is home to many creative and documentary artists.  As a result, Documentary Studies students may have the opportunity to hone their skills as interviewers in conversation with area creators.  In Spring 2018, students interested in 'Documenting Makers' will develop written and video profiles in a course led by Marc Woodworth, editor of Salmagundi Magazine. This fall, Emily Rizzo,'18, talked with sculptor Patrick Morelli about his work on the Behold monument.


Morelli "Behold" Monument UnveilingOn January 11, 1990 in Atlanta, GA, the Behold monument was unveiled by Mrs. Coretta Scott King. Located in the National Martin Luther King Jr Historic Site, the monument was created as a tribute to her late husband and serves as an inspiration for all that fight for human rights.

Inspired by the Kunta Kinte character in Roots, the ten-foot bronze sculpture was inspired by the ancient African ritual of lifting up a newborn baby to the sky and reciting the words, "Behold the only thing greater than yourself." 

Patrick Morelli and "Behold" monument"I wanted the Behold Monument to glorify those aspects of Dr. King's character that I felt distinguished him as a truly great man...first, his ability to defend a morally courageous--though often, unpopular--cause in the face of, seemingly, overwhelming opposition and, second, his ability to maintain his dignity and a genuine spirit of brotherhood in the face of the cruelest and most ignorant threats, insults, and indignities believing that, ultimately, the righteousness of his convictions and beliefs would prevail."

- Patrick Morelli, Sculptor's Statement


MDOCS' Audio Doc Student Emily Rizzo, intrigued by this Saratoga sculptor's story, visited his studio in September 2017 and led an interview about the creation of this famous monument. Listen to the interview excerpt here.

To hear the entire oral history captured during this interview, please click here.

More about the artist

Patrick Morelli

PATRICK MORELLI, a graduate of Duke and Syracuse Universities, is a sculptor, painter, digital artist, photographer, and site-specific architectural designer. His work is distinguished by visual beauty, emotional depth, intelligence of design, technical excellence, and a universal human and fine arts significance. His virtuosity has been demonstrated in his ability to create realistic as well as abstract/modernist sculpture, architectural designs, and paintings of the highest quality, imagination, and originality.

The sculptor’s work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution’s American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.; the Tennessee State Museum; and the Pepsi Cola Corporate Collection, among others, as well as in the private collections of Ms. Anne Ford, the Honorable Rudolph Giuliani, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Jr., and the estate of Mr. Alex Haley.

Awards include the National Sculpture Society’s Barrett-Colea Foundry Prize, a Dewitt Wallace Reader’s Digest Grant, and the National Arts Club’s Exhibiting Member’s Bruce Stevenson Memorial Portrait Painting Award.

(Excerpt taken from

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