MU Alum Looks to Past to Fuel Future

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COLUMBIA - MU alum Ty Christian served as the chief marketing strategist on the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, raising more than $115 million for the project.

Christian returned to Columbia in January to donate his replica of the monument to MU, where he graduated in 1977. He took time during his short visit to sit down with KOMU 8 News to speak about the motivations that led him to national fame and his crusade for social justice.

Christian cites his grandmother, Ida Mae Randall, as his main source of inspiration. She worked as a housekeeper for a number of white families in St. Louis during the Civil Rights era. Christian recalled the many summers at home in which he would pick her up from work at the end of the day. He said one homeowner repeatedly asked him to pick Randall up at the back door, preferring the hired help did not utilize her main entrance. Christian remembers how his grandmother demanded that he never "go to that damn back door."

Taking this mentality, Christian moved forward to mate his grandmother's and Dr. King's ideologies, which eventually led him to his work on the national mall.

"With her message and his actions, I had no excuse to be the very best I could be."

Christian left his Martin Luther King, Jr. monument replica at MU, hoping students, faculty, and staff continue enacting Dr. King's, and his grandmother's, dream.