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Martin Luther King Jr. memorial

In World News on August 26, 2011 at 7:21 pm

By: Kristen Hegel

                A new memorial honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. now sits in Washington, D.C. The official unveiling and dedication ceremony will take place on Sunday, August 28 on the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream” speech.

                The project, which became an idea 27 years ago, is finally complete.  After a location dispute, a site was selected and Congress approved. A 1999 design competition for the memorial was held, and ROMA Design Group was selected out of 900 entries. Their design was a park setting that incorporated a sculpture of Dr. King. The man chosen to create the 28-foot-tall statue of Dr. King, known as the “Stone of Hope,” was Lei Yixin, a Chinese native sculptor. “Dr. King belongs to the world. He’s a world-wide hero, and his spirit is universal,” Yixin said.

Chinese sculptor, Lei Yixin, makes the last touches on the sculpture. Photo courtesy of Google images

            The monument rests on the National Mall just across from the Tidal Basin and between the memorials of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. It’s the first monument built on the National Mall honoring someone other than a president. Other than the statue, there is also a 450-foot-long wall with 14 of Dr. King’s well known quotes etched into the stone. The quotes were picked from Dr. King’s speeches, books, and letters by a panel of scholars. The cost of the project totaled $120 million and was paid for by the memorial foundation. $800,000 of the cost went to the King family for the license to use Dr. King’s image and quotes for the memorial. The land used was a government donation.

            “Here’s a man who stood for some lofty goals and actually changed America. That’s why we built this memorial,” Harry Johnson, President and CEO of the Memorial Foundation and member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity that Dr. King was a part of during his time at Boston University, said. “The fraternity helped actually bail him out of jail once or twice,” Johnson said. Johnson also commented on the 165 cherry trees planted around the site of the memorial saying, “People from all over will come and see them bloom typically the week Dr. King was assassinated. But [there are] other symbolisms as well: our address, 1964 Independence Avenue. That’s the year President Johnson signed the civil rights legislation with Dr. King standing over his right shoulder.”

            With the King family attending, and President Obama speaking at the dedication, people are said to be flocking to the event. “We’re saying 250,000, but the numbers keep growing,” Johnson said. “We think they’re going to get up to 400,000 for them. We’re ready for them. The city of D.C. is ready for them. The country’s ready for them. And you can see, Martin Luther King is ready for them.” The American people have been waiting, and The March on Washington, 48 years later, is sure to draw an even larger crowd.

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