Reflections on the national memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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But in looking beyond the historical importance of the upcoming anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech and Dr. King’s commitment to service, I believe that it is extremely important for Americans to fully appreciate the significance and substantive relevance of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

When looking at the monument’s symbolic importance, it is worth noting that Dr. King will be the first African-American to be honored with a memorial on the Mall and it will be the only one that does not commemorate a president or a war. Additionally, the placement of Dr. King’s memorial should not be overlooked as his statue will stand on four acres of land positioned directly between the Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln memorials.  

And while I will certainly join others in celebrating the fact that Dr. King is the first African-American to have a memorial on the Mall and absolutely rejoice in his monument’s prominent location, it is my sincere hope that visitors to his memorial will be forever reminded and struck by how his leadership positively transformed our society and catalyzed other social justice movements around the world.      

Since Dr. King’s passing in 1968, there have been many liberation movements that have drawn inspiration from his teachings. When examining South Africa’s departure from apartheid or analyzing the freedom movements of the 20th and 21st centuries, one cannot help but appreciate how these events are the fruits of seeds whose origins come from Dr. King’s life and legacy.          

The overarching message of this memorial to current generations and generations yet unborn should be that Dr. King’s achievements helped make our union a more perfect union. Moreover, his achievements are yet working to ensure the promise of our Constitution to protect the rights of all Americans. Finally, it is important that this memorial’s ultimate impact be to help citizens of the world better understand and embrace the goal of freedom and equality for all mankind.

More from The Hill:
♦ Rep. Hastings: The struggle continues for King's dream
♦ Rep. Meeks: Making the dream a reality
♦ Rep. Rangel: The dream lives on
♦ Rep. Clay: A memorial is not enough
♦ Rep. Clarke: Continuing to build the dream
♦ Rep. Conyers: Dr. King's dream of jobs, justice and peace
♦ Rep. Carson: A renewed call to positive action
♦ Austin: Remembering the March for Jobs and Freedom