In 1969 art collectors Dominique and John de Menil offered to purchase Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk, considered by many the finest sculpture of the 20th Century, as a memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to be installed downtown, in front of Houston’s City Hall. It was to be accompanied by the words “Forgive Them, for They Know Not What They Do.” The city turned them down, and the piece was installed, floating in a reflecting pool, in a courtyard of Rothko Chapel. The work is abstract; you bring your own meaning to it. It recalls, perhaps, the shattered dreams expressed in the shadow of the Washington Monument, broken by the assassination of King. For forty years, the Rothko Chapel, dedicated in 1971, has served as a space for personal contemplation, interfaith dialogue and action for human rights.

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