Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Opens To The Public In D.C.
He was not a war hero or a president but Dr. Martin Luther King's message for peace and equality will be memorialized on the National Mall in Washington D.C between the Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln memorials.
The 30-foot-tall sculpture had its soft opening to the public yesterday but will officially be dedicated on August 28th, the 48th anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech.
The 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner stands with his arms crossed, emerging from a "mountain of despair" as a symbol of hope, taken from his 1963 "Dream" speech.
King's daughter Bernice King spoke about the memorial, "He was one of the most hated men in America. He was considered an enemy of the government," she said. "And here we are 40-something years later, and he's being honored in this way by our nation. ... So it certainly speaks to the magnitude of some of the progress that we've made in the area of race relations."
There were financial issues with getting the statue done as well as complaints about the nationality of the artist chosen to design the monument.
Executive architect Ed Jackson Jr., 62, who oversaw the design process for 15 years, thought Lei Yixin's work would cause people to overlook his Chinese heritage.
Despite the hurdles, the dedication ceremony is set for 11 a.m. Sunday to be followed by a concert on the National Mall. Both are free and open to the public, but tickets will be required for access into some areas. For information, go to www.dedicatethedream.org.
See pics of the monument and video footage of the soft opening on the next pages.