We finally made it! And let me tell you, it was amazing. I used to think that the Lincoln Memorial was my favorite site to visit in DC, but now the MLK Memorial takes the honor.
What You Will See
A line from Dr. King’s speech “I Have a Dream” is cut into the stone – “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope”. Visitors enter through two large boulders known as the Mountain of Despair and tour the memorial as though moving through Dr. King’s journey. You eventually end up in the open freedom plaza where Dr. King is looking into the horizon. This represents his vision of encouraging all citizens to strive for justice and equality. The movement for civil rights is unfinished and so is the image of this sculpture (intentionally). Surrounding the statue is a long wall that features quotes from his many speeches and writings such as:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Letter from Birmigham, Alabama jail, April 16, 1963
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
Strength to Love, 1963
Thank goodness we stopped the park ranger who answered all of our questions and explained the strategic positioning of the memorial. And here are some facts they also told us.
Fact #1 – A ceremony dedicating the Memorial was to take place on August 28, 2011, on the 48th anniversary of his “I Have a Dream” speech, but was postponed to October 16, 2011, the 16th anniversary of the Million Man March due to Hurricane Irene.
Fact #2 – The Memorial’s official address is 1964 Independence Avenue SW, but was specifically given this address in honor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Fact #3 – Alpha Phi Alpha, the first African-American Greek-lettered fraternity was directly responsible for the conception of the statue. They first proposed the idea in 1968 after his assassination. MLK was a member of the fraternity joining in 1952 while attending Boston University.
Visiting the Memorial
It’s free and open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. National Park Rangers are on site to answer questions starting at 9:30am until 10pm daily. The location is also perfect because the MLK Memorial is right in between the Lincoln and Jefferson so you can do all three in a day. In our opinion, a definite must while in DC.