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Monument in Washington to Honor Martin Luther King Jr.

Tribute to civil rights leader to be sited near Lincoln Memorial

Posted: August 28, 2005

Photo © AP/WWP
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights activist and Nobel laureate, delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington, August 28, 1963. A national monument honoring King, the first on the National Mall honoring an African-American, is scheduled for groundbreaking in November 2006. (© AP/WWP)

Washington -- A national monument honoring the legendary civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., the first monument on the National Mall honoring an African-American, is scheduled for groundbreaking in November 2006, after a lengthy push to raise the necessary funds.

The memorial will be constructed on four acres near the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Monument, in direct sight of the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech on August 28, 1963, at the March on Washington, which drew a record crowd of 250,000.

King's speech inspired millions of Americans to join the fight against racial injustice and support equality for all Americans.

The speech remains one of the most moving and influential in American history. He spoke of an America where his children "will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." His relentless efforts to encourage racial and economic equality brought about significant changes in America. Since his death in 1968, King's vision lives on through his speeches and the successes achieved by his mission.

On June 29 the U.S. Senate approved $10 million to help fund the memorial. The money provided by the Senate will enhance fund-raising efforts by the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, which has already raised more than $40 million of the $100 million needed.

"The legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. touches every American. It is only fitting that the United States Government pay tribute to Dr. King through this contribution to his memorial," said Senator Robert Byrd, who supported the measure to fund the project.

The life and accomplishments of King will be represented through the use of water, stone and trees to symbolize the themes of justice, democracy and hope. Electronic versions of King's speeches will be on display. "The memorial will educate future generations about the movement Dr. King represented and serve as a beacon for the continued fight against sanctioned injustice and inequality wherever it occurs," said Harry Johnson, president of the King Foundation.

Members of Dr. King's college fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, developed the idea for the memorial more than 20 years ago, and more than 900 contributions from 52 countries were submitted for the memorial's design.

Laura Potter
Washington File Staff Writer

 
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