Although this is not the first memorial to an African American in Washington, D.C., King is the first African American honored with a memorial on or near the National Mall and only the fourth non-President to be memorialized in such a way. The King Memorial is administered by the National Park Service (NPS).
Although the dedication ceremony did not take place on August 28, the memorial officially became a United States national park on that day. The National Park Service has administered the memorial since it opened, and assumes responsibility for the memorial's operation and maintenance. On August 28, Bob Vogel, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks unit of the National Park Service proclaimed:
From World War II to Vietnam Veterans, from Lincoln to Jefferson and now to King, the memorials and monuments along the National Mall are where millions of visitors every year learn about our history. The National Park Service is honored to serve as the keeper of America's story, and with this new memorial, to have this incredible venue from which to share the courage of one man and the struggle for civil rights that he led.
In December 2012, Salazar announced that the entire quote would be removed, starting in February or March 2013; it will not be replaced. To avoid leaving an impression of the erased inscription, the entire statue will be reworked on both sides, at a cost of $700,000 to $900,000. Harry Johnson, head of the memorial foundation, said, "We have come up with a design solution that will not harm the integrity of this work of art." In August 2013, the sculptor removed the disputed inscription from the statue, and created a new finish for the side of the artwork. Sculptor Lei Yixin carved grooves over the former words to match existing horizontal "striation" marks in the memorial and deepened all the memorial's grooves so that they match.
MELISSA BLOCK, host: And I'm Melissa Block. Thousands of people were hoping to attend the dedication this weekend of the new Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial on the National Mall. Well, the ceremony has been postponed because of Hurricane Irene.
Among those who traveled to the capital were members of Alpha Phi Alpha, the African-American fraternity that played a key role in the memorial's creation and neither an earthquake earlier this week nor the coming hurricane could keep them from turning out to pay tribute to Dr. King and to celebrate a hard earned victory.
KELLOGG: Still, for many Alphas, this weekend was a chance to celebrate themselves. The memorial to Dr. King is the first for an African-American and the first for a non-president on the National Mall.
Today, nearly half a century after Martin Luther King, Jr. led the historic March on Washington for equality, tens of thousands came to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Dedication. The memorial to Dr. King has been open since August, but the dedication was delayed due to Hurricane Irene. As President Obama said, though delayed, "this is a day that would not be denied."
President Obama, joined by the First Family, toured the memorial and then spoke at the dedication ceremony in honor of Dr. King's work to make his dream a reality for all. During his speech, President Obama reminded us that the progress towards Dr. King's vision has not come easily and there is still more to do to expand opportunity and make our nation more just:
Harry Johnson, the president of the foundation that built the memorial, announced at a hastily called news conference Thursday evening that the dedication will be postponed until September or October. Hours earlier, Johnson had insisted at another media briefing that the dedication would continue as scheduled.
A black-tie gala scheduled for Saturday night was canceled, the foundation said. However, the memorial was to be open to the public all day Friday and from 7 a.m. to noon Saturday. Johnson said that in hindsight, his best decision was to open the memorial to the public on Monday ahead of the dedication.
WASHINGTON, DC -- Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), who was a staff member of the March on Washington, today spoke at the city's kickoff of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial dedication and urged residents to use the memorial dedication to dedicate themselves, "the last to be free, to their own freedom." She said that she "went south as a Washingtonian" but our own city "stands alone, singled out without a vote." It would be "simply unthinkable," Norton said, "to dedicate the King Memorial on the 48th Anniversary of the March on Washington without asking the nation to dedicate itself not only to what King stood for, but also to what his life continues to stand for today."
The memorial dedication will lead Americans to measure how much our country has achieved since the 1963 March on Washington--more than I dared predict during the first part of that summer when, as a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Council (SNCC) worker in the Delta town of Greenwood, Mississippi and in the second part of that summer, on the staff of the March on Washington under the great Bayard Rustin, the organizer of the march. I did not imagine as I stood in the Memorial near the Lincoln statue that King's "I Have a Dream" speech would galvanize all that the sit-ins, the marches, the voter registration drives and the jailings had been doing for the 10 years since the Montgomery bus boycott. Yet, the very next year, Congress passed the first of the great trilogy of civil rights acts, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which central theme was jobs, establishing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Title VII of the Act, where it was my great privilege to administer just 14 years later. On August 28th, I will join millions of Americans, especially my friends from SNCC and the civil rights movement, in their pride that throughout the south, where King did his signature work, African Americans voted in such large numbers that they sent members to the House of Representatives from Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and the state I remember most, Mississippi.
Today, once again, Mayor Gray is leading our city and our country not only to attend the historic Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial dedication, but to also dedicate ourselves to King's ideals and to his goals. For we who are citizens of this city and for those who come to celebrate, there is an inescapable way to enhance the commemoration of this historic memorial dedication. It is simply unthinkable that our country would dedicate the King memorial on August 28th, the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington, without also dedicating itself to freedom now and statehood for the District of Columbia. Once again, I thank Mayor Gray, Dr. Johnson and Reverend Wilkins for ensuring that the memorial dedication continues to exemplify not only what King stood for, but also for what his life continues to stand for today.
But the skies were still blue over Washington today, as visitors streamed into the Martin Luther King Memorial as it opened to the public for the first time this week ahead of Sunday's dedication ceremony.
\"It feels like it's long overdue that a man who's contributed so much to the people of this country and to the world is finally getting his justice,\" said Jeri Green of Washington, who visited the memorial.
The ceremonial groundbreaking for the memorial took place on Nov. 13, 2006, and the dedication is scheduled for Sunday, the 48th anniversary of Dr. King's \"I Have A Dream\" speech, which he delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.
A concert honoring the music of the civil rights era, \"The Message in the Music,\" is scheduled for Thursday night, and Saturday evening is the Dream Gala, followed by the official memorial dedication Sunday afternoon.
"Martin Luther King is not only a hero of Americans, he also is a hero of the world, and he pursued the universal dream of the people of the world," Mr. Lei said through a translator in August, before hurricane Irene pushed back the dedication of the memorial to Oct. 16.
The new memorial depicting Dr. King was finally dedicated this weekend, after being postponed because of an earthquake that originated in Virginia and swayed Washington, and then because of Hurricane Irene. A prominent element of the memorial is the 450-foot-long crescent-shaped granite Inscription Wall with fourteen of Dr. King's notable quotes engraved in it. 2b1af7f3a8