Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

by Amanda Molinaro from Irvine

<a href=>Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial</a>
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

Martin Luther King Jr. sought to instill this idea of love in all those around him. He fought and gave his life to replace violence, hate, and oppression with freedom, justice, and brotherly love. He once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” King had a dream that one day everyone would be considered equal, regardless of the color of their skin, and he fought to make this equality a reality. In a time when oppression and violence was rampant in America, he campaigned for peace and love. He was a great humanitarian, and continues to be an icon of all the values he stood for: courage, justice, freedom, peace, forgiveness, love, and equality.

Photo from the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, National Memorial Project Foundation
Photo from the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, National Memorial Project Foundation

During the ‘50s and ‘60s, people who spoke publicly about economic problems were accused of being in league with communists. In spite of this, Martin Luther King found the courage to continue speaking of current problems plaguing society, even when J. Edgar Hoover tried to besmirch his reputation. According to Andrew Young, a close friend and confidant to Martin Luther King, Hoover tried to destabilize King’s message of peace and equality by proving that a connection existed between King and communists. Young recalls, “Hoover didn’t understand black people at all. For him, there was no difference between Dr. King, who was advocating non violence, and the Panthers, or Malcolm X, or the Muslims… He saw us all as a threat to the status quo… Even when his own agents came and told him they could find no evidence of any communist connection, he fired them and put someone else on the job to find a connection. And it just wasn’t there.”

During his lifetime, King was seen as a threat to America’s way of life. Today, he is hailed as one of the greatest leaders of the civil rights movement, and a great orator and humanitarian. In 1996, a proposal was submitted to the House of Representatives to build a memorial commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. that would evoke his memory and spiritual presence. After the proposal was approved, The National Memorial Project Foundation selected a four-acre site for the monument along the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC. The Martin Luther King Jr. monument will be situated next to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, and in a direct line between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. In December 1999, the Foundation held a design competition for the memorial that attracted over 1900 registrants from 52 different countries. In September of 2000, the Foundation selected the design of the ROMA Group of San Francisco.

<a href=>Stone of Hope</a>
Stone of Hope

“His vision of America is captured in his message of hope and possibility for a future anchored in dignity, sensitivity, and mutual respect; a message that challenges each of us to recognize that America's true strength lies in its diversity of talents.”

The memorial will serve as a reminder of Dr. King’s contributions towards world peace, and will challenge each of us to work for freedom and democracy. The wall of the memorial will be inscribed with quotations and excerpts from his speeches and public addresses; a living testament to his vision of peace for the future. In the center of the memorial will be a 30-foot likeness of Dr. King. He will be holding a pencil that points across the Tidal Basin toward the Jefferson Memorial. The monument is inscribed with excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, which King called “a promissory note ... that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial will be more than a tourist attraction; it will serve as a reminder of his courage and a source of inspiration for all.

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Foundation has been holding “Dream Dinner” fundraisers in major cities around the country to raise the $120 million it will take to complete the memorial. To date, the Foundation has collected $100 million. The Dedication of the Memorial has been tentatively scheduled for 2010, but this goal can only be reached if the Foundation is able to reach its goal of $120 million. You can support the completion of the memorial by making a donation to the Foundation, and ensuring that Dr. King’s message of peace lives on.

Page created on 1/15/2009 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 1/15/2009 12:00:00 AM

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Related Links

NPR News & Notes - "Building a Memorial for Dr. King" - Listen to an audio interview with Harry Johnson, President and CEO of The Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King Junior National Memorial Project Foundation

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