With the celebration of Black History Month, this blog post features guest blogger Diane Jones Dillard. During recent travels to our nation’s capital, Diane shares her experience from a visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial.
Dr. King’s memorial is located in our nation’s capital in the West Potomac Park near the Tidal Basin in the greater National Mall. The official address in 1964 Independence Ave. SW commemorating the year that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law.
After 20 years of planning, fund raising and construction, it opened to the public on August 22, 2011, but the dedication ceremony was postponed until October 16, 2011 due to hurricane Irene.
The total cost of the memorial was nearly 120 million dollars.
The memorial consists of three main components. The Mountain of Despair is symbolized by two huge pieces of granite depicting a mountain with a pathway that visitors pass through to enter to The Stone of Hope which stands 30 feet tall with the likeness of Dr. King gazing out at the Tidal Basin. The Inscription Wall expands on each side of the Mountain of Despair inscribed with 14 quotes from Dr, King’s speeches and writings. The memorial covers 4 acres all together.
Over 400,000 people visit the MLK memorial each year
When I went to DC in October and visited the memorial for the first time, I wasn’t quite sure how I’d feel about it. After all there had been a lot of controversy about the choice of the sculpturer, Lei Yixin, an artist from The People’s Republic of China. Some say Dr. King’s features are slightly Asian to them. Others weren’t happy about how Dr. King is portrayed with folded arms and a stern face.
Dr. Maya Angelou wasn’t happy with the editing of the inscription on the side of the Stone of Hope regarding being ‘a drum major for justice’, which by the way is to be removed. I had some reservations, however, they all vanished the moment I passed through the Mountain of Despair.
A visitor reflects on the principles taught by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Now, as overwhelmed as I was last October on my first visit to the memorial, all those emotions were dwarfed by what I felt in January when I visited the memorial during Inauguration weekend ! Just to be in Washington D.C. for this historic event in America was a once in a lifetime experience and for me, a blessing. There was a spirit of pride, jubilance, brotherhood, camaraderie, and hope that is indescribable. For the first African-American President of the United States of America to be sworn in for his second term on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday represents the hope that Dr. King dreamed about.
Diane Jones Dillard
Diane Jones Dillard resides in Mary Esther, Florida. She is a mother (mine), grandmother, artist, and advocate for social change. She is very active in her local community. She is constantly seeking to elevate awareness through service and the sharing of knowledge and information. She also is quite the cook!