The history and struggles of African-Americans were the inspiration for Civil Rights Garden, which Kirkland created in collaboration with landscape designer Robert Preston. The 60- by 120-foot garden plaza consists of a winding narrow brick path along which rise progressively taller black granite columns. The columns were left rough at the top to provide contrast—in color, texture, and symbolism—to the adjacent white marble Beaux-Arts Carnegie Library. Each column is engraved with quotes by African-Americans, such as Fannie Lou Hamer`s proclamation, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.” At the center of the composition is a column topped with an upraised, open hand, a symbol of the right to vote, and a cast bronze bell that hovers over a cascading pool of water. The Imperial red granite fountain is encircled by a black granite ring inscribed with quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.`s “I have a dream” speech. The bell rings every day at noon, recalling the speech`s repeated refrain, “Let freedom ring.”

Installed, 2002