The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is located in West Potomac Park in Washington, DC. This memorial is America’s 395th national park. The official address of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, 1964 Independence Avenue, SW, commemorates the year that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law.
The memorial opened to the public on August 22, 2001. The official grand opening ceremony was scheduled for Sunday, August 28, 2001, the 48th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech given by Dr. King from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, but was postponed because of Hurricane Irene. It was dedicated on October 16, 2011, the 16th anniversary of the Million Man March.
Though this is not the first memorial to an African American in Washington, DC, Dr. King is the first African American honored with a memorial on the National Mall and only the fourth non-President to be memorialized in such a way.
The memorial is situated on a four-acre site between the Tidal Basin and Independence Avenue, SW. The centerpiece of the memorial is based on a line from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech: “Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” A 30 foot-high relief of Dr. King, named the “Stone of Hope,” stands past two other pieces of granite that symbolize the “mountain of despair.”
A 450 foot-long inscription wall includes excerpts from many of King’s sermons and speeches. The earliest excerpt is from the time of the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama. The latest from his final sermon, delivered in 1968 at Washington DC’s National Cathedral, just four days before his assassination.
The memorial also includes 24 niches along the upper walkway to commemorate the contribution of the many individuals who gave their lives to the civil rights movement in different ways – from Medgar Evans to the four children murdered in the 16h Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham. A number of the niches are left open and incomplete, allowing them to be dedicated as new individuals are honored.
Another inscription on the “Stone of Hope” reads “I Was a Drum Major for Justice, Peace, and Righteousness.” This paraphrased version of King’s original quote: “If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.” has led to quite a bit of outrage and controversy.
Sharing is caring. :)Tweet