A Dream Fulfilled, Martin Luther King Memorial Opens
Now we know: The arc of the moral universe is long, but it leads to a picturesque glade beside the Tidal Basin, with the Washington Monument providing sentry.
After more than two decades of planning, fund-raising and construction, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial — a four-acre tract south of the Mall featuring a granite statue of Dr. King — has officially opened to the public.
Published: August 22, 2011
The memorial will be formally dedicated on Sunday in a ceremony that is expected to draw perhaps a few hundred thousand people from around the country. But some of its earliest judges came on Monday, as hundreds of city residents and visitors stood in line for their turn to take a look.
“I wanted to be part of this history,” said William Wilson, a retired federal employee. “This is the architecture of progress.”
The dedication, which is to include remarks by President Obama, coincides with the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial.
The monument is the first on the Mall and its adjoining memorial parks to honor an African-American, said Harry E. Johnson Sr., the president of the foundation in charge of erecting it. That made it an emotional occasion for many who came to see it.
“This is important as a black American,” said Jerome McNeil, who was there on Monday taking photographs for his grandchildren. “It’s not just a statue, it’s a symbol of what we can do if we put our minds to it.”