A new statue of the late tap dancer Peg Leg Bates was unveiled in front of the 100 East Apartments on East Washington Street. This is the former site of the Liberty Theatre where he often performed before he went on to perform on the stages of New York and the world. He lost a leg in a textile machinery accident at a young age, but went on to develop a tap dancing style that more than compensated for the loss. His work is remarkable even today as shown in this sample video. His advice inscribed on the base is “In life, you don’t let anything stop you”.
The sculpture cleverly composed of nuts, bolts and hardware is by artist Joe Thompson.
Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, and it highlighted how far we have progressed in the last 50 years. As this mosaic of Wilson Cooke’s life located on South Main Street shows, things were even more different 175 years ago.