Plaque, Unity Mural Planned for ‘Place That Reflects the Best of Us’
Photo by John T. Consoli
The University of Maryland unveiled plans and broke ground today on a plaza that will honor the life and legacy of Bowie State University student 1st Lt. Richard W. Collins III.
The ceremony was held in honor of Collins, a Black man murdered by a white UMD student in a tragedy that sparked years of dialogue over racial strife and a renewed commitment to justice across the UMD community.
“We must never forget what happened here on our campus, and we will continue to honor the life of Lt. Richard Collins as we pursue an anti-racist, inclusive culture at our university,” said university President Darryll J. Pines. “Our resolve to carry forth a message of peace has never been stronger. Together, we must educate and empower our community to relentlessly pursue social justice and equity for all. For us, the life and legacy of Lt. Collins is enduring. And now, built in the very landscape of our campus, it will stand forever.”
The plaza will be located near Montgomery and Annapolis halls and overlook the bus stop where Collins’ life was taken in 2017. Planned to encourage reflection, the space’s modern design will be paired with materials that match the historic architecture of the campus core. Pines shared details of the plaza in an email to the campus community today.
The plaza will include two walls—one featuring an engraved granite plaque honoring Collins—and a fountain at the base. The second wall will display the Unity Mural created collaboratively by UMD and Bowie State students, faculty and staff as part of The Clarice's 2017 NextNOW Fest to illustrate peace, justice and unity. Construction will conclude in May, and the campus community will be invited to the space by the end of the spring semester.
Collins’ parents, Richard and Dawn, thanked UMD and Bowie State for beginning to make the plaza a reality.
“We wanted a place that reflects the best of us,” Dawn Collins said at the groundbreaking on behalf of the Collins family. “When you visit the plaza, meditate on your hopes and your dreams. Draw on the spirit of my son, his patriotism, his dedication to his career in the military, and his passion for pursuing his dreams. Our wish is for Collins plaza to be a lasting and symbolic place at the University of Maryland that repudiates all forms of hate and bigotry.”
Also in attendance at the private event were members of the Social Justice Alliance, a coalition created between UMD and Bowie State to promote equality and honor Collins’ legacy; officials from the Lt. Richard Collins III Foundation; and Aminta Breaux, president of Bowie State University. Rashawn Ray, sociology professor and executive director of the Lab for Applied Social Science Research, also participated in the groundbreaking ceremony.
“We hope our cherished BSU Bulldog will forever be honored,” Breaux said. “We will persist … to do whatever is necessary to overcome those forces that seek to divide our society.”
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