The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Tonight I visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Despite heavy skies and muggy air I was determined to see this Memorial before the crowds descend this weekend. The rain held and I trudged around downtown DC, skirting the blocked off areas around the White House and passing by many other iconic national monuments on my way to the newest one. This weekend the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial would have been officially dedicated, 48 years after The Reverend Dr. King’s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech, which was delivered at the March of Washington for Jobs and Freedom. (The official dedication originally scheduled for August 28, 2011 has been postponed because of Hurricane Irene). The Memorial overlooks the Tidal Basin and the Jefferson Memorial, and stands not far from the Lincoln Memorial…a fitting place. It is the only national memorial that is not a U.S. President or an honor to fallen soldiers or wars.
The Memorial was conceived by Dr. King’s fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, and almost didn’t happen because of funding issues. It’s been a long time coming but now it is done and it is beautiful. Exquisite. One enters the Memorial through the Mountain of Despair (I got chills walking through the Mountain), and into a quiet area that is partially surrounded by 2 walls. As you enter there is third large stone piece – the Stone of Hope. The names of these sculptures come from the “I Have A Dream Speech” (This is our hope…this is our faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope…). On the 2 walls that flank the Mountain of Despair are inscriptions from famous and important speeches. According to the pamphlet handing out by park rangers, the “quotations chosen for the inscription walls, which frame the Mountain of Despair and the Stone of Hope, stress four primary messages of Dr. King: justice, democracy, hope, and love.” But the most magnificent and imposing part of this Memorial is the sculpture of Dr. King on the Stone of Hope. He stands resolute, strong, bold looking out over the Tidal Basin and toward the Jefferson Memorial. The statue actually reminds me of the statue of Bob Marley that is near the National Stadium in Jamaica; there, Mr. Marley is captured as growing from the roots of a tree. And as with Mr. Marley, Dr. King’s words ring true and are as pertinent now as when they were originally spoken.
Below are some of the pictures that I took…I hope that they capture for you the beauty and inspiration that this Memorial embodies. I’m going back in the daytime when there are less people and better light for picture-taking. Of course, if you’re in DC then this is a must see part of your trip.
The inscriptions, and then…