Construction of a 4-acre Martin Luther King memorial continues to move along quickly. The $120 million project is roughly 40 percent complete and on course for its 2011 third
quarter unveiling along the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The project’s sponsor, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, has currently raised $107 million of the total cost from a variety of willing contributors. General Motors has donated $10 million while the Federal Appropriation and Tommy Hilfiger have combined for over $14 million in assistance to top an extensive list.

As the Foundation is still actively receiving donations, members are confident the memorial will be paid for in full by the end of next year. Excitement has continued to circle the project which, once completed, will be the first major memorial on the National Mall to honor an African American.

“I think it’s going to clear the way for other figures to be placed whether they’re African American, Native American or some other descent,” says Harry Johnson, president and CEO of the project. “I think what this memorial is going to do is help diversify the Mall. Up to this point we have not had a figure on the Mall who’s a non-president. All of the figures on the Mall are basically presidents, war heroes and Anglo, so this is going to be the first memorial to a non-president, to a person of color, and to a man of faith. I think this is going to open the door for people to say ‘Hey, if Dr. King can be there, maybe someone else can be there who represents the total complexion of America.’”

Since beginning construction Dec. 16, 2009, an on-site webcam has provided hourly updates of the memorial’s progress on the organization’s website. As the District currently undergoes massive construction throughout many parts of the city, Johnson believes the MLK Project may be one of the most important productions in the area.

“I think for communities at large what it’s going to do is basically spread the word of Dr. King and that is his words of hope, justice, love and democracy,” Johnson says. “I think people all over are going to see this memorial as a place to come to sit and recognize those principles that America was founded on expounded by Dr. King.”

For more on the MLK Project or to make donation visit: www.buildthedream.org

 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO