In Black America Podcast: The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Harry Johnson, Sr., president and CEO of the Washington D.C. based Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation. Also featured on the program are civil rights activist Julian Bond, Rev. Larry H. Williams, retired pastor Zion Hill Baptist Church, and the late Rev. Ralph Abernathy.
The Memorial opened on August 22, 2011, on the National Mall, and it is the only one dedicated to a person who did not serve as U.S. president.
Sunday, August 28, 2011 was chosen for the dedication, as it is the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington where King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.
The Memorial has been in the works for more than 15 years. In 1996, Congress passed legislation authorizing it and after a lengthy deliberation, its location was finally agreed upon to be placed on the National Mall in 1999.
Its location on the Tidal Basin creates a visual “line of leadership “from the Lincoln Memorial, which honors the President who protected the United States from internal strife, and where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech; to the Jefferson Memorial, which honors the President who helped create the United States as the author of the Declaration of Independence.
The memorial includes large parted boulders meant to symbolize the struggle for civil rights. One of the boulders include one of Dr. King’s quotes about hope: “Out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”
Another boulder is placed in the center of the memorial with a statue of King carved into it. His “I have a dream” speech will not be found anywhere at the memorial because it is his most known and most taught. Memorial creators wanted to highlight the depth of his words and teachings.