After pushing through fund-raising and construction setbacks, the long-awaited memorial to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is scheduled to open in Washington, D.C., in fall of 2011. The culmination of 14 years of fund-raising, the project is now only $14 million away from it's goal of $120 million. Once completed, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial will occupy a four-acre space on the National Mall.
World events, including the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, 2005's Hurricane Katrina and the recent earthquake in Haiti have all taken some focus away from the project's fund-raising efforts, Johnson said.
"We have learned that every 18 months, something is going to happen to take up the attention span of Americans, and rightly so," [Harry Johnson, president and CEO of the foundation] said."But Americans are very giving, and so we still managed." Multimillion dollar donations helped. They came from Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, of which King was and Johnson is a member; and the foundations for General Motors, Tommy Hilfiger, Bill and Melinda Gates and others. A $12.5 million letter of credit from the Wal-Mart Foundation announced in November allowed organizers to buy a construction permit from the National Park Service and begin building, [Foundation spokesperson] Rica Orszag said. Source: King memorial nears dream of completion, MontgomeryAdvertiser.com
If you'd like to get a look at what's planned, a virtual tour of the site is posted on the foundation's website.
A 28.5-foot-tall centerpiece sculpted by Lei Yi Xin, a master artist from China, will feature King's likeness. Large stones will mark the entrance and feature King's words. One stone will read, "With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope." Another will feature the words also carved in to the Civil Rights Memorial near Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, King's old congregation in Montgomery: "Let justice roll down like the mighty waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." Source
Given the sharp tone of our political discourse at this moment, I cannot think of a memorial more needed. Like the memorial's creators, let's hope that the King memorial serves as a beacon for calm, sober, rational thinking about our country and her future.