The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., opened with little fanfare Monday morning, but the weeklong celebration of the opening — it ends Sunday — will have nothing subtle or quiet about it.
Spearheaded by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, which King joined in 1952 as a graduate student at Cornell University, the $120 million King memorial will be the only one on the mall that honors someone other than a president or a war. The 32 Lexington-area fraternity members, who sponsor the annual Unity Breakfast in Lexington, helped raise $25,000 for the monument. In 1983, George Sealy proposed the idea of the memorial to four of his fraternity brothers. What followed were years of wrangling for a prominent position on the mall and the establishment of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation Inc., the fraternity's non-profit fund-raising arm. Fraternity member Lee Jackson said, "Dr. King, because of his contributions to American history and American society, is very, very worthy of this monument to him."
Jackson — who secured scarce tickets to the dedication because he is a founding member of the memorial foundation — will watch the proceedings on TV.
King stands out as one of the great Americans."
The King memorial, which stands 30 feet high and is inscribed with the words "Out of the Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope," will be a permanent reminder of the difficulty of traveling the road to the present, he said.
The King memorial sits between memorials for Abraham Lincoln, the emancipator, and Thomas Jefferson, an author of the Declaration of Independence. In addition to the sculpture of King, there is a 450-foot granite wall featuring 14 quotes from King that were selected by a panel.
The weeklong ceremony will end Sunday, the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington and King's "I Have a Dream" speech. A 30-foot-tall vision of a resolute Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., rising from a block of granite, peering across the peaceful waters toward the neoclassical pillars and dome of the Jefferson Memorial. Behind him, across Independence Avenue, stands the Lincoln Memorial -- the site of the slain civil rights leader's most famous speech 48 years ago.
Hundreds of thousands are expected for the memorial's formal dedication Sunday.
1st visitors to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial express awe at its beauty and meaning
On Monday, the 63-year-old Choates -- now a Alexandria, Va., resident -- stood below a granite sculpture of the civil rights leader, situated in a place of honor along an axis between presidents Lincoln and Jefferson's memorials in the nation's capital, surrounded by the words with which King moved the nation.
The memorial has had its challenges. King was assassinated in 1968.
"This is history," said Dave Sartin, 64, who lives outside Cleveland, but attended Farmington High School and Michigan State University. A new memorial dedicated to civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. will open this week in Washington, DC.
Mildred Clark is excited about traveling to Washington DC to visit the new 120 million dollar Reverend Martin Luther King Jr national memorial.
A dedication ceremony is set for Sunday, which is the 48th anniversary of king's "I have a dream speech."
President Obama is scheduled to speak at Sunday's dedication.
The 30 foot sculpture of Dr. King is aligned perfectly along the axis of the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials.
Mildred Clark has donated her time for many organizations, including the martin Luther king commission which honors local young people with scholarships.
"We present King's oratorical contest in honor of Dr. King and inviting students from kindergarten to senior high school to present an oration in honor of Dr King."