MLK Memorial: Part 1

Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his "I Have a Dream" speech

Yesterday, the long-awaited Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was unveiled on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The official dedication ceremony will be on August 28, but the statue is currently open to the public.

According to NPR, the memorial was initially suggested by King’s fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, in 1984. Twenty-seven years later, the idea was made into a reality in the form of a thirty-foot-tall statue of King’s likeness. NPR reported, “The memorial is the first honoring an African American and the first honoring a person who did not serve as president.”

The Washington Post reported:

The sculpture, called “Stone of Hope” . . . refers to a line in King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. “With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope,” King said. His statue is designed to look as if he were once a part of the “Mountain of Despair” but is now the “Stone of Hope.”

An artist's rendering of the "Stone of Hope"

August 28 marks the forty-eighth anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, when King made his “I Have a Dream” speech.

On the morning of August 28, 1963, the city of Washington seemed deserted, according to Calvin Craig Miller, author of No Easy Answers: Bayard Rustin and the Civil Rights Movement.

Miller wrote:

Numerous writers would describe the atmosphere as that of a besieged city, as though the country were at war. Yet the force that caused such anxiety was one that carried no weapons. Its leaders promised a peaceful march. . . Its speakers planned to ask for simple, basic rights for African Americans– a chance to cast their ballots in elections, to live and go to school in the same neighborhoods and schools as whites, to get job training, and to earn a minimum wage.

Within hours, however, Kerrily Sapet, author of Political Profiles: John Lewis, wrote, “An estimated 250,000 people, of all races, united in Washington to call for racial justice.”

“The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom would become the largest demonstration in American history.”

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

On that day in Washington, D.C., in front of hundreds of thousands of people, Martin Luther King told the crowd:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Sapet wrote, “[King’s] inspiring words captured the hope Americans wanted to feel. At the end of the day, they carried his message home with them, dreaming of a new nation where all people were treated fairly.”

It was his push toward change and his efforts in the Civil Rights Movement that inspired the memorial’s creation. Now, visitors to our nation’s capital can look at his statue and remember how far we have come and far we still have to go.

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For more information about Martin Luther King Jr., the March on Washington, and the Civil Rights Movement, check out the following Morgan Reynolds titles and series:

Political Profiles: John Lewis by Kerrily Sapet (ISBN 9781599351308)

No Easy Answers: Bayard Rustin and the Civil Rights Movement (ISBN 9781931798433)

The Civil Rights Movement Series (ISBN 9781599350738)

Published in: on August 23, 2011 at 3:14 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The dedication has been postponed due to Hurricane Irene. Read more here –> Stay tuned for a post covering the dedication!

  2. The Martin Luther King Memorial dedication will be on October 16, 2011.

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