Not knowing much about Black history for almost all of his adult life is the calling that precipitated renowned sculptor, Ed Dwight, to use his art for a greater good. For years, Dwight’s artwork had been seen by many in public spaces all over the nation. From both recreational and national parks to capitol buildings to colleges, Dwight’s work had been a depiction of America’s leaders and a highlight of their accomplishments.
It wasn’t until he was 42 years old that Dwight gained racial consciousness and decided to spotlight America’s leaders in a different way. Attending white schools all of his life, he was never aware of the great accomplishments Black people have been making since before he was even born. After a counterpart service member told him the stories of Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Fredrick Douglas as well as other great Black leaders, Dwight felt a whirlwind of emotions—which caused him to shift the focus of his career to the appreciation of Blackness.
“I went to Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and anywhere that had a large Black population,” Dwight says. “I’d go to these large centers to see if they had any Black sculptures or outdoor public art and I couldn’t find any.” Due to the lack of recognition for America’s Black leaders, Dwight felt that it was his purpose to instill enlightenment in the areas that he saw as less progressive. According to Dwight, tourism draws attention to memorial sites and is an opportunity to educate the unfamiliar. “Nobody was building these large memorials that told stories,” Dwight says. “I became the go-to guy.”
To this day, Dwight sculpts with the intention of not only recollecting the great changes brought about by African-American men and women decades and decades ago, but also with the intent of inspiring today’s people to continue to work for change and progress our country. “It’s the impact of placing Black memorials throughout different cities that it not only has on our culture, but on history a whole.”