FORMER ATLANTA MAYOR ANDREW YOUNG BEING CONSOLED
The National Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial: Architectural Rendering
I. VIDEO: WORK BEGINS ON KING MEMORIAL
II. VIDEO: MLK MEMORIAL GROUNDBREAKING
III. VIDEO: KING MEMORIAL DIGNITARIES’ COMMENTS
The ceremonial groundbreaking for the National Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial was held Monday on the National Mall. The King Memorial, planned to open in the spring of 2008, will be the first monument for a civilian and black leader on the large park at Washington’s center. It is also possibly among the last monuments that will be constructed on the Mall, after a 2003 vote in Congress to limit development of the parkland.
Dignitaries on the stage in front of the crowd that had gathered to witness the ceremony included Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, former Ambassador Andrew Young, singer Gladys Knight, Maya Angelou, and three of King’s children. A gospel choir sang, Maya Angelou read poetry and children read essays that they had written about Dr. King. Former President William J. Clinton, who signed the 1996 legislation that authorized The Memorial, received a standing ovation from the largely African-American crowd. He reminded the gathering of Dr. King’s commitment to nonviolence and social justice causes such as ending poverty, saying those goals still have not yet been achieved. “If he were here, he would remind us that the time to do right remains,” Clinton said.
The Memorial will occupy a four-acre plot on the banks of the Tidal Basin, near the Potomac River. The Jefferson Memorial is across the Tidal Basin, while the Lincoln Memorial lies to the northwest, near the river. The design is based in part on King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech. Before repeating the “Let freedom ring” refrain, King told the crowd, “We will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”
Visitors will pass through an entryway cut through a massive stone symbolizing the mountain of despair and once inside, will come upon the missing section marking the stone of hope, bearing a carved profile of King. It will be ringed with walls chiseled with King’s words that may eventually be the base for a waterfall.
Senator Obama, who has said he is considering a presidential run in 2008, spoke about being able to imagine bringing his own two young children to The Memorial when it is completed and passing through the mountain of despair. “He never did live to see the promised land from that mountaintop,” Obama said. “But he pointed the way for us.”