Local Student designs art for new Utah license plate honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Utah has a new license plate that celebrates “Many Voices, One Utah” and honors the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The art for the plate was designed by Eleanor Smith from Timpview High School.

Eleanor Smith designed the new license plate art

The Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Commission put out a call for a contest to design the new plate. Asking Utah students to design the plate to honor inclusion, diversity, and Dr. King Jr’s work.

“We bear witness today in the issuance of the MLK license plate the commitment and hard work of individuals to ensure that Utah is known as a place that is welcoming, and celebrates and embraces diversity,” Emma E. Houston, current MLK Jr. Commission Chair, said.  “We are proud to live in a state that honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the non-violent tenets he espoused during his lifetime.”

The project was lead by Nubia Peña director of the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs. She said she and her team were privileged to bring the project to completion.

“We are grateful for commission members and legislators who have diligently strived to elevate the legacy and principles of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to create a greater compassionate community in our state. We look forward to continuing to build partnerships with leaders, advocates, and change agents that share the vision to build a Utah where all people feel seen, valued, and considered,” Peña said.

Where the idea started

The new license plate has had a long journey that started in 2012. Former Utah Multicultural Commission member and former Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck (D-Salt Lake City) and her co-sponsor, then-Senator Howard Stephenson, started the project. Chavez Houck says she’s grateful the project is now reached the finish line.

“I’m so pleased to see these efforts, with which I was honored to be a part when I first sponsored the initial legislation in 2012, come to fruition,” Chavez-Houck said. “At that time, Dr. Roderic Land and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission, as well as the Senate sponsor for the bill, former Senator Howard Stephenson, were key to getting this project underway. I can’t wait to purchase this plate for my car!”

According to a release sent to ABC4, “In 2020, Sen. Luz Escamilla (D-Salt Lake) and Rep. Sandra Hollins (D-Salt Lake) re-introduced the license plate bill with updated technical changes, and it again passed.”

Dr. Forest Crawford, co-founder and first chair of the Martin Luther King Human Rights Commission, said the commission should be commended for its work.

“”Ever since Utahns have observed King’s birthday around the late 60’s/early ’70s, diverse communities sought to underscore what he really means to the continuing evolution of humanity,” Crawford said. “In Utah, we have taken the affirmative step, supplanting his endearing legacy as a beacon for all our aspiration-young and old!”

Commissioner Eddy Thompson, who oversaw the project, said, “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. summoned the best qualities that have guided and sustained the American spirit while strengthening our nation’s commitment of equality, justice, freedom, and peace,” Thompson said. “This license plate will show our nation that Utah is committed to equality, freedom, justice, and peace!”

The license plate will be available within six months and made available by the Utah Division of Motor vehicles.

The license plate design project was provided by the Utah Jazz, Comcast, Goldman Sachs, and the Utah STEM Action Center.

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