It took 24 years, but the city of Beaumont finally has a statue of Martin Luther King Jr.

On Jan. 19, a life-size figure of the slain civil rights leader was unveiled at a park on the Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.

The King statue is part of a small complex that includes stone panels inscribed with quotes from some of King's famous speeches.

In 1986, when the MLK Parkway was officially named, plans also began to erect a statue of King. A plaza and a granite pedestal were put in place with funds from the Texas Department of Transportation, but state law prohibited the city from raising funds for a statue on state land.

For years the pedestal sat empty, until a new location was selected at College Street and MLK Parkway.

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