Building Monuments - Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (US National Park Service) (2023)

Building Monuments - Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (US National Park Service) (1)

Recalling that Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is located in West Potomac Park in1964 Independence Avenue, SW, refers to the year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed. The memorial's official dedication date is August 28, 2011, the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, although the ceremony is due to take place on October 16 Hurricane Irene was postponed.

dr Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and social activist who became a notable figure during the US civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968. He played a key role in ending the legal segregation of African American citizens in the United States. , which influenced the creation of the Civil Rights Act 1964 and the Voting Rights Act 1965. In 1964 he received, among other things, the Nobel Peace Prize.

King's Memorial is the first to honor an African American person on the National Mall. The place is a place to reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.: a nonviolent philosophy that strives for freedom, justice and equality.

Building Monuments - Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (US National Park Service) (2)

project selection

In 1996, Congress authorized the fraternity of Martin Luther King, Jr., Alpha Phi Alpha, to erect a memorial in his honor in Washington, DC. A Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation held a design competition and identified the Tidal Basin site as the site of the memorial.

For the design competition, entrants' submission materials included ten posters with images and a timeline of Dr. King, information on the DC location of the memorial and the Foundation's vision for the memorial. Each aspiring designer presented three 24" x 36" display panels to an international jury of artists, historians and architects. A total of 906 participants took part in the competition, although the judges only knew the registration number of each entry. After three days, the jury narrowed the entries down to 23 finalists. Since the jury could not make a decision, the jury asked the 23 finalists to submit a fourth board.

In 2000, the jury selected ROMA Design Group's plan for a stone with the image of Dr. Rey emerging from a mountain. The theme of the plan drew on a line from King's 1963 speech "I Have a Dream": "With this faith we can hew down the mountain of despair a stone of hope." The final design features a huge carved mountain with a piece removed, symbolizing the "Stone of Hope" carved from the "Mountain of Despair". To reinforce this motif, the edges of the Stone of Despair and the Mountain of Despair feature wear marks symbolizing struggle and movement, as well as an engraving with the words "From the Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope." . Visitors can enter the memorial through the Mountain of Despair and walk through the memorial reflecting the struggle that Dr. Rey was exposed during his life and approaching the square where Pedra da Esperança is located. In the stone, a sculpture of Dr. King thoughtful and determined to the horizon.

Building Monuments - Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (US National Park Service) (3)

create the sculpture

To see the picture of Dr. King, the foundation sought a sculptor. The search led her to St. Paul, MN, where an international collection of sculptors were creating public works of art that would be displayed throughout the city. After reaching out to the fifteen artists, they found that four of them recommended Chinese artist Master Lei Yixin. After the Foundation interviewed him in Washington, DC and surveyed his work in China, Master Lei Yixin became the official sculptor in 2007.

Lei filled the walls of his study with hundreds of photographs of Dr. King and studied them until he had the essence of the man's mind firmly in his mind. He created a 3-foot model of the sculpture, among other sculptural models, before sculpting the final 30-foot version. Along the way, Lei worked closely with the foundation and the King family to select the material (shrimp pink granite) and create the likeness that would be reflected in the final product.

A 30-foot fiberglass replica of the entire sculpture served as a reference for the stone carvings. The sculpture and mountain consist of 159 blocks of granite that were transported to Master Lei's workshop in Changsha, China, where he assembled and carved 80% of the artwork. It was then dismantled and shipped to Baltimore and rebuilt in the monument. Master Lei completed the final 20 percent of the sculpture on the Washington, D.C. compound.

Nick Benson and his team created text engravings that captured King's words. Benson, a third-generation mason, spent more than two years on the project. His business, The John Stevens Shop, is located in Newport, Rhode Island. He is a designer and sculptor with distinctive architectural lettering, which is an original typeface designed in both classical Greek forms and contemporary sans serif typefaces. His other printed works include the World War II Memorial, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island, and the National Gallery of Art.

Building Monuments - Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (US National Park Service) (4)


Every part of the monument is significant and symbolic. From the towering mountain of despair rises a stone of hope as the focal point of the memorial. This refers to a line from King's speech: "With this faith we can hew a stone of hope from the mountain of despair." There he was captivated by the striking image of Dr. King in a moment of thoughtful, determined and determined reflection. The detachment of the Stone of Hope from the Mountain of Despair symbolizes victory born of disappointment. A quote wall that Dr. Embracing King represents his ideals of peace, democracy, justice and love. As much as the quotes acknowledge the history of civil rights struggles in the United States, they can continue to serve as inspiration for other people fighting for civil rights around the world.

The monument's location is also significant, highlighting the core of the "beautiful city" envisioned by Pierre L'Enfant in 1791 and the expanded McMillan plan of 1901. The plans were intended to create an entire city that would "remind us of what." should try to achieve as a nation, as a society [and] as people on this planet.” King walked up the steps of the theater for the “I Have a Dream” speechLincoln Memorialand referred to the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson. King used the power of the venue to appeal to core American values ​​held dear to all Americans and emphasized the injustice perpetuated by segregation. The location of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial along the connecting lineThomas Jeffersonand the Lincoln Memorials help strengthen the bond between these three leaders at three pivotal civil rights moments in our nation's history: from the promise that "all men are created equal," to the emancipation of the slaves, to the ultimate aspiration for perfection and equality rights.

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Main battery list controversy

Upon its unveiling in 2011, the memorial immediately attracted controversy due to a paraphrased quote on the Stone of Hope: "I was a drum of justice, peace and righteousness." The entry sparked controversy when author and poet Maya Angelou said he makes King "look like an arrogant jerk". The original words of the king of aFebruary 4, 1968 Sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Churchin Atlanta they were, “If you mean I was a drummer, say I was a Justice drummer. Let's just say I was a drum major for peace. I was a great justice drummer. And all the other superficial things don't matter.

The sermon dealt largely with the danger of personal ego driving individuals and nations to live beyond their means and seek attention and dominance for negative purposes, and ended with Martin Luther King urging his congregation to transform this desire into amelioration to convert: a main drummer. - in the service of others. In the sermon, King loudly wished that he would not be remembered for his awards and education, but that he "tried to give his life for others" and that he "tried to love and serve mankind." . The message of self-denial embedded in the sermon seemed at odds with what was recorded at the memorial.

On December 11, 2012, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced his decision to remove the controversial quote by carving strips over the words that would blend into the existing artwork. In 2013, sculptor Lei Yixin modified the monument again and removed the mention. The paraphrased quote is no longer visible.

Plan your visit

Know where to go and what to do.


Study quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. engraved on the memorial.


Building Monuments - Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (US National Park Service)? ›

Map of Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

How many memorials are there for Martin Luther King, Jr? ›

To keep his dream alive, 50 identical statues were placed from Memphis to Amsterdam on locations that refer to slavery and places that let us remember how important it is to end racism and fight for equality, regardless of gender, religion or race. History may not be forgotten. This is an ode to Dr.

When was MLK monument built? ›

National Memorial, monument built between 2009 and 2011 in Washington, D.C., honouring the American Baptist minister, social activist, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin Luther King, Jr., who led the civil rights movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968.

What city was the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial built in? ›

In 1996, Congress authorized Martin Luther King, Jr.'s fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, to establish a Memorial to him in Washington, DC. The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation held a design competition and identified the Tidal Basin site for the memorial's location.

What 2 memorials is the MLK between and why? ›

Dr. King dreamed of a world with equality for all, and his memorial between the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials on the National Mall stands as a tribute to his legacy. Opened 48 years after Dr. King's “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the MLK Memorial stands 30 feet high.


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