Memorial To Martin Luther King To Open
August 20, 2011 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 20 (UPI) — The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, to open this month in Washington, is surrounded by memorials to four presidents, two of them slave owners.
King will be the first person honored on the mall who did not serve as U.S. president. The memorials nearby honor George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.
The memorial is to be dedicated Sunday, Aug 28, 48 years to the day after King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and proclaimed “I have a dream,” USA Today reported. He was assassinated in Memphis in April 1968, five years later.
When King gave the speech, segregation was still legal in much of the South. He was a controversial figure, regarded by many whites as a dangerous rabble-rouser, under surveillance by the FBI and derided by some blacks as too timid.
A recent poll for USA Today by the Gallup Organization found that 91 percent of respondents approved of the memorial on the National Mall. That included 99 percent of blacks and 89 percent of whites.
Deane Bonner, president of the NAACP in Cobb County in Georgia, near King’s hometown of Atlanta, said she heard him speak in a church in Columbus, Ohio, in 1961. The speech inspired her to become an activist.
“Dr. King’s place is so paramount to us because he was a man of non-violence,” she told USA Today. “In spite of everything that was going on in the country, Dr. King turned the other cheek. A man of peace certainly should have a place on the Mall.”