Constitution Daily

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"I have a dream" memorial becomes a reality

August 24, 2012 by Rachel Bradshaw


Nearly half a century after he led the March on Washington for civil rights and gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, Martin Luther King, Jr., received the honor in 2011 he deserves among other great American leaders in Washington, D.C.

Flickr photo by mattlemmon

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial opened to the public n August 2011 in West Potomac Park on the Tidal Basin. It was formally dedicated on the 48th anniversary of King's immortal speech.

On August 28, 1963, the first integrated protest march, which became known as the March on Washington, was led by Dr. King.  It was during the protest that King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial; the symbolism did not go unnoticed.

Five years later on April 4th, Dr. King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.  But it took another 28 years before President Bill Clinton signed congressional legislation proposing the establishment of a memorial in honor of Dr. King.  Finally after years of fundraising and construction, the memorial is set to open.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

The Martin Luther King, Jr., memorial is located on the Tidal Basin, creating a visual line of leadership between the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial.  The memorial's location identifies King as a integral leader in American history.

Visually, the memorial also conveys four major themes-- democracy, justice, hope, and love.  The memorial will include a 450-foot inscription wall with some of King's most famous quotes.  It will also feature the "Mountain of Despair" and the "Stone of Hope," which includes a 30-foot sculpture of King.

For more on the Memorial:

Rachel Bradshaw was the Education Assistant at the National Constitution Center. This story first appeared last August.

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