The civil rights leader Martin Luther King (C) waves to supporters 28 August 1963 on the Mall in Washington DC (Washington Monument in background) during the 'March on Washington'. King said the march was 'the greatest demonstration of freedom in the history of the United States.' Martin Luther King was assassinated on 04 April 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. James Earl Ray confessed to shooting King and was sentenced to 99 years in prison.
Crews are building a memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the National Mall, just east of the spot where he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Two giant boulders dominate the memorial – inspired by a line in King's most famous speech, "we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope."
A likeness of Dr. King is carved into stone, and more than a dozen of his quotes line a long inscription wall.
DC Mayor Vincent Gray says he hopes this memorial may save lives.
"I think the four themes: justice, love, democracy, and hope capture who this man was and we hope that that can be conveyed, especially to our children, as we live in unfortunately a world of violence," Gray said.
Other heroes of the Civil Rights movement are honored on the four-acre site. The $120-million memorial - built mostly with private donations -also features 185 cherry trees. Harry Johnson heads up the fundraising effort, which is still $11 million short of its goal.
Johnson says Dr. King's message resonates worldwide.
"I believe that in the future when people seek peace and reconciliation, that this is a place they’re going to come and say, 'we seek peace, not war. We seek peace, not conflict.' He adds that when you talk about the political rhetoric in our country today, "I think the same can be said, that we ought to live together as brothers and sisters, or we shall perish as fools."
The MLK memorial's dedication ceremony is scheduled on August 28th, the 48th anniversary of Dr. King’s speech on the Mall.