Some dreams take longer than others.
Back in April 2012, former State College Borough Council member Peter Morris led a motion that transformed Fraser Plaza into Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza — in name, at least.
The physical transformation only recently became evident in the small area next to the Fraser Street Garage, where a mural depicting King’s January 1965 speech at University Park now stands tall and glistening.
“A lot of people have been here (in State College) for a very long time so they have a great memory of that,” said Barbara Farmer, a member of the committee that helped to shape the plaza.
Farmer helped to plan the ribbon-cutting ceremony that will begin at 10 a.m. Monday.
It opens a door to a public place where people can go and remember.
State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham will do the honors, while presentations by the likes of Harvard Divinity School professor Preston Williams and AnneMarie Mingo, a civil rights scholar and assistant professor at Penn State, will help add context to both the site and King’s robust legacy.
“It opens a door to a public place where people can go and remember,” Farmer said.
To facilitate those recollections, a trail of paver stones that winds throughout the plaza touches on key moments in civil rights history.
Some are locally focused — as is the case with the block devoted to Calvin Waller, who became the first African-American student admitted to Penn State in 1899 — while others concentrate on seminal moments in the movement as a whole.
The end of legal segregation in public schools, Rosa Parks’ arrest and the subsequent Montgomery bus boycott and the March on Washington in 1963 are all included.
“We’ve taken our time to try and develop a full narrative in the pavers,” Mingo said.
In addition to her participation in the ribbon-cutting, Mingo also served on the plaza’s advisory committee.
There are young people now who may have not heard it because it’s not played as often as it used to be.
She said tributes to King exist in places all over the world — Australia, Cuba and Italy, to name a few — but that in America, the same recognition has been relegated to a multitude of street signs idling on roads throughout the country.
“That doesn’t invite the same kind of engagement,” Mingo said.
Charles Dumas, a retired professor from the Penn State School of Theatre, was also a member of the advisory committee.
He’ll begin Monday’s ceremony with a performance of King’ s “I Have a Dream” speech.
“There are young people now who may have not heard it because it’s not played as often as it used to be,” Dumas said.
For all the history on display, the plaza may be more about looking forward than back.
Farmer would like to see people in the community continue to grow closer together.
“State College is becoming a model city of what can be done and how we can get along,” Farmer said.
If you go
What: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza ribbon-cutting ceremony
When: 10 a.m. Monday
Where: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza, South Fraser Street, between West College Avenue and West Beaver Avenue