By Karen Stokes
Community leaders and residents gathered at the Welford Sanders Historic Lofts and Enterprise Center to celebrate the dedication of a life size statue of the late Welford Sanders on Thursday, Oct. 28.
Sanders left behind a strong legacy as a role model and community advocate. Sanders, who passed in 2015 at the age of 65, was a leader who used his voice and talents for the community. He led redevelopment efforts for the King Drive Commons and various Harambee neighborhood projects.
Sanders wore many hats, including president of Growing Power, UWM teacher and executive director of the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation (MLKEDC).
“Today a special ceremony was held to dedicate a statue in honor of the late Welford Sanders who served for 15 years as the executive director of the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation,” Ald. Milele Coggs said in a statement.
The award-winning Welford Sanders Historic Lofts and Enterprise Center, 2812 N. 5th St., named for Sanders, is a 210,850-square-foot project that includes 59 loft-style apartments. This project renovated the former Nunn Bush shoe factory into affordable apartments and office space.
“Mr. Sanders was truly a champion of the community and a visionary for the potential of King Drive,” Coggs stated. “He was always aiming high for what he thought could, and should be done to bring prosperity to the area.”
“I could not think of a better tribute for Mr. Sanders than the statue dedicated today that was created by artist Vinnie Bagwell,” Coggs said. “It will serve as a continued reminder of the impact he had, and continue to have, in and around King Drive.”