Semi-Finalists Selected For Ed Johnson Memorial

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Three semi-finalist teams have been chosen to submit design concepts for the Ed Johnson Memorial at the south end of the Walnut Street Bridge. The permanent memorial will commemorate the life of Ed Johnson, honor the work of his attorneys and recognize the resulting United States Supreme Court case.

The three semi-finalist teams are Rodney Leon, of Rodney Leon Architects, artist Ai Qiu Hopen, and Elizabeth Kennedy, of Elizabeth Kennedy Landscape Architect; NBW Landscape Architects and Lord Cultural Resources; and Jerome Meadows, of Meadowlark Studio. To learn more about the teams and to see their previous work, visit

The teams have designed and created outstanding public art, commemorative sites and memorials across the country. Their previous work includes the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania; the African Burial Ground Memorial in New York; the Gate of Freedom in Birmingham; and the African Burying Ground and Memorial Park in New Hampshire.  

The semi-finalists were chosen from 45 submissions, with artist teams from three continents and more than a dozen states. The teams included artists and landscape architects.  

A selection committee of Chattanooga citizens nominated by Public Art Chattanooga and the Ed Johnson Committee reviewed all the entries and made the selections. The selection committee was comprised of a diverse group of professionals, artists and community representatives in order to provide a range of perspectives.  

“The selection panel chose three outstanding teams,” said Katelyn Kirnie, director of Public Art Chattanooga. “With their combined track record of public projects, I am confident in their ability to design an integrated artwork and public space that is both celebrated as part of the urban fabric of our downtown and honored as a place of historical significance and remembrance."

The semi-finalist teams will visit Chattanooga this fall to learn more about the community and the project. During this visit, the public will have opportunities to meet and interact with the teams. The teams will then create design concepts, and a finalist will be chosen early in 2018.  

"This memorial becomes a place where healing can happen and a place where reconciliation can happen and a place where people can come and share their stories about how they are working toward race relations in Chattanooga," said LaFrederick Thirkill, co-chair of the Ed Johnson Project.  

The Ed Johnson Project seeks to promote racial healing and reconciliation in Chattanooga by creating a permanent memorial which acknowledges the lynching of Ed Johnson, honors the work of the attorneys, and recognizes the resulting United States Supreme Court case that established federal oversight of state-level civil rights issues then and now. The project is also helping to fund a documentary and scholarship.  

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