Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Opens to Public

Aug 22, 2011 1:13pm

 

ABC News’ Jennifer Wlach reports: In the early morning hours Monday, media from across the nation gathered for a first-look at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.  National Park Service and memorial organizers welcomed the media to tour the space—some of the first unfettered access to the memorial before it is accessible to the public this afternoon.  Upon entrance, visitors will approach the ‘Mountain of Despair,’ a large rock cut in two, through which they can walk to the main memorial.  As the memorial opens in front of you, the ‘Stone of Hope’ stands at its center—with a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on its far side, overlooking theWashington, D.C.’s Tidal Basin.  Encircling the monument are marble walls on which 14 of King’s most famous quotes from his speeches, sermons and writings are etched. Washington will be celebrating Dr. King, his legacy and leadership in the Civil Rights movement, and the new memorial all week long. The memorial organization hosts luncheons on Wednesday and Thursday to honor Civil Rights pioneers as well as the Women Leaders of the Civil Rights movement.  Thursday evening brings “The Message in the Music,” a concert honoring the music of the Civil Rights Era.  Saturday evening is the Dream Gala, followed by the official Memorial dedication Sunday afternoon.  President Obama, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Dr. King’s family, and other key figures from the Civil Rights Era are all slated to speak at the dedication ceremony Sunday. The memorial has been a 15-year endeavor—beginning with a resolution signed in 1996 by President Bill Clinton to establish a memorial “honoring the life, the dream and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” on the National Mall. The ceremonial groundbreaking for the memorial took place on November 13, 2006.  This Sunday’s dedication, August 28th, marks the 48th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, which he delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.

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