From all walks of life they came – elected officials, business associates, former staff, acquaintances, colleagues, friends, and family – walking together to celebrate the dedication and unveiling ceremony for The Walk of Mayor Wellington E. Webb monument in the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building. Funded by the DM 42 Legacy Foundation, the full-size sculpture by Ed Dwight signifies the 42-day, 330-mile walk of candidate Wellington Webb when he won the mayoral race in 1991.
Former spokesman for the Webb Administration Andrew Hudson emceed the April 6 ceremony, welcoming a procession that included Governor Jared Polis, Mayor Michael Hancock, Ed Dwight, Tom Migaki, Rev. Frank Davis, Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore, Mike Dino, Rosemary Rodriquez, Ambassador Daniel Yohannes, Jim Martinez, Jim Sullivan, Wayne Cauthen, and others.
Entertainment was bountiful and diverse. Great granddaughter Aubrey Ipolani Webb opened the program with “America The Beautiful.” Freddy Rodriguez Jr. accompanied by Andrew Hudson performed “This Is My Country.” Referred to as an angel from heaven, Tara Washington sang a tribute song, “The Greatest Love of All.”
Tom Cochran with the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C. brought official greetings from President Joe Biden, former President Clinton, and the presidents of three national organizations of mayors.
In addition to his relationship with Webb since 1999 and Webb’s contributions to the City of Denver and beyond, Cochran said, “In my lifetime, I have attended only two dedications of statues. The first was in 2003 when we shut down our Denver 71st Annual Meeting on a beautiful Sunday morning and all attended the ceremony in Denver City Park honoring the new statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. created by Ed Dwight surrounded by sculptures of Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass, Mahatma Gandhi, and Sojourner Truth. And then on April 6 with the unveiling of the Webb statue. While Dr. King was a transformation figure for our nation from the state of Georgia and the City of Atlanta, Mayor Webb, too, is a transformation figure for his City of Denver and for his state.”
Dwight shared his vision of the sculpture’s creation and Hancock described with great enthusiasm how Mayor Webb’s leadership and action made Denver what it is today.
It was the Honorable Wilma J. Webb who took the attendees behind the scenes with images never before seen or recognized.
“Wellington, on this morning, I want to thank you and congratulate you for being the man, the family man, the servant, and the leader that you have lived to be,” she said.
“Because of Wellington, I and you the people of Denver and Colorado and our nation, we were able to:
- Give the people of Cuernavaca, Mexico, one of Denver’s Sister Cities, a needed firetruck;
- Provide a very needed water tank to cleanse the water for the people of our Sister City, Axum, Ethiopia;
- Provide health care to people who were suffering from AIDS in South Africa;
- Stand up for the release of Nelson Mandela from political prison in South Africa;
- Read books to children who were staying the night at school in 5 below zero weather in the snow in Golden, Colorado;
- Meet and be inspired by Victor Contreras, a world-renowned artist of Mexico, who provided our city with the sculpture, “Infinity,” proudly located in our Denver Center for the Performing Arts;
- We experienced Oslo, Norway, where the Nobel Peace Prize originates, and we came back to Denver understanding more deeply what peace and freedom mean to people everywhere;
- We planted trees in Israel to prevent further possible drought there;
- We comforted our nation and our Denver citizens by planting flags in Civic Center for each of the victims of 9/11;
- We came back from Paris, France, where we were inspired by the art and the parkways in Versailles, and we created Centennial Park in Denver;
- We went to Gettysburg and experienced first-hand what Abraham Lincoln did in comforting the surviving soldiers from the North and the South by assuring them that our losses were not in vain;
- We established scholarships in the name of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose shoulders all of us stand. Numerous students in Denver and Colorado have benefitted in receiving higher education because of these scholarships;
- We visited the sick and the hurt to provide care and hope for them;
- We donated $20,000 to Northeastern Junior College and $40,000 to Manual High School.
“And, with the help of the people of Denver, did so much more for people everywhere. There is so much more to tell.”
Never at a loss for words, the 42nd Mayor of Denver said, “People ask me, ‘When are you going to retire, Mayor Webb?’ My response is always, ‘When the Good Lord tells me.’”
In the meantime, he said he’ll continue to voice his opinion and work on issues that he believes are important for Denver, Colorado and America.
“So, my priorities for 2022 are the following,” he said.
- I join our nation in supporting the people of Ukraine as they fight the genocide of Russia against their country. But we as Americans also should be very concerned about the genocide taking place in Ethiopia, where thousands of people, including women and children, are being raped, starved, forced from their homes, and killed. We sat on our hands in 1994 when social tensions in Rwanda erupted into a civil war, in which Hutu extremists killed an estimated 500,000 to 1 million Tutsi and Hutu in the span of 100 days. The potential in Ethiopian deaths is even higher. I implore someone in Washington, D.C., to give a damn about Africa.
- I continue to join the ongoing debate on the future of the Park Hill Golf Course. Voters were right to protect this open space, but the reality is some development will take place. I don’t believe that 155 acres should be all open space, nor do I believe it should be all concrete development. The final plan should include all voices, and a solid plan should be settled this year. People have put their hearts into this issue and we have an opportunity to do the right thing. I don’t want to have put my tennis shoes on again on this issue.
- There’s a great opportunity to create a new job base in Colorado by investing in the film industry to shoot Western films throughout our glorious state. No state can compete with the beauty of Colorado. We can put people to work and share that beauty worldwide. Let’s shoot these Western films on the Western Slope and in our rural communities.
- I don’t know about you but every year the property tax on my house goes up. If I was on fixed income, I could not pay these taxes, and I know it is a growing burden on homeowners. I’m going to have my firm work with businesses and community leaders to address this critical issue. The taxes are too high.
- While I have faith in the superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, the last vote of the Board of Education is a punch in the face to the kids in far northeast and northeast Denver, specifically Manual High School and Montbello. I’m also discouraged that teachers and students don’t know basic Black history. Can you believe a teacher of Black history at East High School did not know where the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library is located? How many teachers and students could answer these elementary school questions. A.) What is the name of the first elected Black Colorado state legislator and what year was he elected? B.) Who was the first Black mayor in Colorado and when was he elected? C.) Name the first three Black lieutenant governors in the United States and name the states where they served.
Editor’s note: To view the Mayor Wellington Webb Statue Unveiling, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WLIfivrLF0