COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland (UMD) broke ground on the plaza to honor 1st Lt. Richard W. Collins III during a small, private ceremony with Richard and Dawn Collins, the Social Justice Alliance, the Lt. Richard Collins III Foundation, and the president of Bowie State University. Lt. Collins, a Bowie State student, was killed in an act of hate by a UMD student on campus in 2017.
“We must never forget what happened here on our campus, and we will continue to honor the life of Lt. Richard Collins as we pursue an anti-racist, inclusive culture at our university,” said University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines. “Our resolve to carry forth a message of peace has never been stronger. Together, we must educate and empower our community to relentlessly pursue social justice and equity for all. For us, the life and legacy of Lt. Collins is enduring. And now, built in the very landscape of our campus, it will stand forever.”
“We wanted a place that reflects the best of us,” Dawn Collins said at the groundbreaking on behalf of the Collins family. “When you visit the plaza, meditate on your hopes and your dreams. Draw on the spirit of my son, his patriotism, his dedication to his career in the military, and his passion for pursuing his dreams. Our wish is for Collins plaza to be a lasting and symbolic place at the University of Maryland that repudiates all forms of hate and bigotry.”
The plaza is located on a prominent site near Montgomery and Annapolis Halls, overlooking the bus stop where Lt. Collins was killed, and it is designed to provide a sense of calm and reflection. The space is modern in design, paired with materials that match the historic architecture of the campus core.
The plaza includes two walls, one featuring a laser-engraved granite plaque honoring Lt. Collins, and a fountain at the base. The second wall sends a message of hope for the future through a display of a Unity Mural. The mural was created collaboratively as part of The Clarice’s NextNOW Fest at UMD by Maryland and Bowie State students, faculty and staff to visually illustrate peace, justice and unity.
“My hope is that each person who sees this plaza will think about the legacy left to us by Lieutenant Collins and will be reminded of the charge we have as members of the greater community to take personal responsibility against the issues negatively impacting our society and demand change,” said Bowie State University President Aminta H. Breaux.
The plaza will be completed this May.