Nuns and priests from the National Black Catholic Clergy Joint Conference recently got a first-hand look at the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., a month before its official unveiling.

On July 27, Sister Antona Ebo, who marched alongside King in Selma, Alabama in 1965, and more than 75 others from the catholic conference got a glimpse of the statue of King, which will be officially dedicated Aug. 28.

“To see Dr. King 30 feet tall, this was a project way overdue,” said Harry Johnson, president of the memorial project.

Ed Jackson, Jr., the architect of the project, said the group asked for submissions that illustrated the “man, movement and message.” After the winner of the international design competition was chosen, Jackson said “it clicked.”

“Everything starts to change after the concept,” he said. “We asked the to exceed beyond industry standards.” One example of the precise detail put into the statue is King’s suit, which bears no metal seams.

Although project leaders said the $120 million effort still needs $6 million for full completion, the memorial looks complete. Facing the tidal basin with cherry blossom trees surrounding the memorial site, the only monument dedicated to an African-American on the mall is built to last.

“We’ve had three floods already and all we had to do was sweep debris,” Jackson said.

For the official lineup of events surrounding the dedication of the memorial, go to