Sunday’s official dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial has been postponed due to the threat of Hurricane Irene, but the site has been open all week (except for briefly following Tuesday’s earthquake).
Many lucky MLK enthusiasts have already gotten to see the historic 30-foot monument on the National Mall and pay their respects.
Laureen Young and her husband were two of the many who ventured out to see the monument on Monday when it first opened to the public. “In 1963 [when MLK was killed] I was in high school," she said. “I’m very proud to be here today … for a man who gave his life so we could have freedom in this country.”
Harry E. Johnson Sr., president and CEO of the MLK Memorial Project Foundation, said all people should come to see the monument since all have been affected by Martin’s work.
“We believe the message that we want to send forth is that when you ask the proverbial question, ‘Who should build the Martin Luther King Memorial?’ the answer resoundingly ought to be, ‘Anyone who ever benefitted from anything Dr. King said or did.’ That includes all of us,” he said.
Harry is thankful to everyone who gave as little as $5 toward the fund but offered special words of gratitude to the men of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., of which Martin was a member.
“Members of Alpha Phi Alpha felt the need to have a memorial for a person of color on the Mall for other people of color to come and see. The fraternity was just the catalyst behind it to get it started, to make sure that we could start raising the funds,” he said.
“We’re appreciative of Alpha Phi Alpha’s members for having the idea and thrusting it forward,” he added.
Although the dedication has been postponed until some time in October or September, a march planned for Saturday afternoon to commemorate the 43rd anniversary of the March on Washington is still a go.
“Saturday’s march and rally is on. The storm doesn’t hit DC till Saturday night. It will only interfere with [the] Sunday events,” tweeted the Rev. Al Sharpton.
However, hours later, he wrote, “I am on my way to DC to meet with officials who have concerns about safety, if we do the march on Saturday. Stay tuned.”
Harry Johnson of the King Memorial Foundation talks about the King family’s involvement. Watch.
See photos of the memorial here.
—Tracy L. Scott