Memorial Honoring King Opens To Public In D.C.

WASHINGTON (WJZ) — Hundreds lined up for the opportunity to make history: to be among the first visitors to see the image of Martin Luther King Jr.– a 29-foot image. Many people were overcome with emotion as they took in the sites of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial.

Last week, Vic Carter had an opportunity to visit the memorial and to get a first-hand look to see what it looks like.

Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln. The forefathers of our country look out over a new monument to a national hero. The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial is a 4-acre grand tribute to a dreamer, a peacemaker, a champion of social change.

“What happens the first time you see this, a lump gets in your throat and maybe a little tear wells up in your eyes,” said Harry Johnson.

It is a dream that is decades in the making.

As part of the planning, Vic Carter was director of communications for the foundation.  He worked closely with the late Coretta Scott King, Dr. King’s widow. Now that it’s a reality, WJZ is the first TV station to get a look at the project, since the scaffolding came down. Our guide was Harry Johnson, the president of the foundation.

Where everyone starts the tour of the memorial, the path is “open wide and then it gets narrower going down. Basically indicates the struggle of going through the Civil Rights Movement,” Johnson said.

Visitors pass through the mountain of despair– two towering pieces of granite– into the wide open plaza.

“So you just walk along out this mountain of despair, which we just walked through, [and then there is] a stone of hope. Keep walking and lo and behold, boom, you look up. And there is Dr. King,” Johnson said.

Reaching up three stories, King’s image emerges from the stone. The memorial’s architect say it’s both an educational and moving experience.

“He’s there looming large, looking over the Tidal Basin in the direction of FDR and Jefferson,  joining the members of our forefathers who gave birth to this nation,” he said.

After people get over the awe of the massive statue of Dr. King, they get to interact with the memorial even more. Along a wall are 14 of King’s most famous quotes.

“‘You must believe people everywhere can have three meals a day for their body, education, a culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits,’ ” Johnson read from the wall.  “From 1964, but how relevant it is today.”

When people leave the memorial, “I want them to leave here, knowing, understanding and believing who Dr. King really was,” Johnson said. “What Dr. King really meant. Not just in this country, but indeed, the world.”

The MLK memorial sits on a 4-acre site and costs $250 million to build. The money was raised primarily through the efforts of Dr. King’s fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha and many private donations. The land was donated by the National Parks Service.

President Barack Obama will lead the official dedication this Sunday, Aug. 28—48 years after Dr. King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

More from Vic Carter
  • Can't Fix Stupid

    Another monument to another big mouth!

  • ChuckB

    Why is Dr. King, in his statue, standing with his arms folded aloof, like some Wall St. lawyer?. And facing away from the walls with his great statements? It makes him look disconnected and haughty, just the opposite of who he really was.

  • LaDasha

    Oh! this is great between Lincoln and Jefferson. Dr. King is a hero to all races and should be honored. I know there are people that don’t agree he should be in the area he is in, but get over it. I can’t wait until they erect one for Pres. Obama.

    • Carroll

      I agree with you Dr. King belongs where he is.

    • Mr. Johnston

      I bet you can’t. On another note… I’m sure that MLK is turning over in his grave seeing how his “descendants” are behaving and acting these days. It seems like every time we turn around we see videos of flash mobs, robberies, rapes, murders, shootings etc.. Come on brothers… Dr. King fought for you and your rights but you continue to show to our society that many of you act like a bunch of uneducated barbarians. I am proud to be an African American male and I think of all the things this great man did for me and my children but many of you are a disgrace to our race, let alone to our society

  • Just Saying

    I was under the impression this area was reserved for past presidents. Oh well, wrong again.

  • msnstyle

    Just saying< well i am glad there wont be one for you…we do know that the area isnt for past idiots, cant fix stupid.. is right… you are a big mouth.. shut up and get a life…stupid

  • Ms. Towson

    msnstyle….what on earth is your post about? If anyone is stupid it is you. You are an illbred, illiterate buffoon.

  • Belair Julie

    Ms. Towson, if MSNSTYLE could comprehend, which I doubt, what you are saying he would be offended. He is certainly an illiterate person (I don’t know about the rest ( illbred & buffoon) my dictionary is not handy).


    if he can only see the progress black have made in the streets of baltimore. that is what it was all about ? what a disappointment for a DREAM

  • Parkville Precinct

    keepem out of PARKVILLE

  • Dr.King'sCousin

    Racism and Negativity keeps these Websites Alive!!! No matter what the Story is about… And you people never let them down!!!!

  • US Citizen

    Had to laugh that Dr. Kings family got $800,000! Amazing how some people just see $$$$$ signs.

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