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Outdoor Sculptures on the UCSB Campus

You are vieweing item 12 of 15 in this tour.

Right in the middle of the walkway between the library and Ellison Hall, the Eternal Flame is a monument to Civil Rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr, President John F. Kennedy, and his brother Robert Kennedy who were assassinated within a 5 year time span. The eternal flame as a symbol is used in a variety of contexts to represent eternal life or the spirit and ideas of those that have passed, keeping them “alive” in the form of the flame. In light of the civil rights activism that occurred on campus during the 1960’s, including the 1968 occupation of North Hall protesting the racism athletes experienced, the memorial fits within UCSB campus and its history.

Photo of the Eternal Flame in 2021

Plant, Botany, Grass, Biome

Gifted by the UCSB class of 1968, the Eternal Flame is a three pronged sculpture that has a series of plaques on each of the “legs”. Each plaque displays a quote from each of the men honored, memorializing their ideas. The flame also resonates with the eternal flames that are near the gravestones of each of them, in Arlington Virginia and in Atlanta Georgia, bringing that symbol onto campus as if to bring their spirit onto campus as well. With this in mind, the Civil Rights Movement these men supported hit home especially at UCSB, with the occupation in 1968 of North Hall leading the establishment of the Department of Black Studies on campus. In times since, there have been re-lighting ceremonies as the eternal flame goes out periodically as it struggles with the wind natural to the UCSB environment, and yet still represents a key time in UCSB history and larger events nationally. If the flame is lit when you see it, please be cautious when approaching it, and feel free to read the plaques as they are presented.