When it was only a proposal, the notion of a memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the National Mall was exhilarating as to me as the campaign to make Dr. King’s birthday a national holiday had been for me in the 1970s when I was a student at Howard Law School. Along with many of my classmates, I collected signatures and attended the annual marches led by Stevie Wonder and Rep. John Conyers, Jr., the legislation’s chief sponsor. In 1983, it became so. And in Jan. of 1986, the annual celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day began.
On Aug. 28, the anniversary date of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where Dr. King delivered his historic “I Have A Dream” speech – America will dedicate the King Memorial. The permanence of this monument on the National Mall symbolizes the permanence of the monumental “stride toward freedom” our nation made under his leadership and continues, even today, to be inspired by his ideas and insights.
In my view, the King Memorial – more so than the other great Americans Dr. King will forever share the great expanse from the Capitol down past the White House all the way to the Tidal Basin and the edge of the Potomac River − has everything to do with America’s past, present, and future.