On November 14, members of the Martin Luther King Jr.’s family, civil rights leaders, celebrities and President Bush gathered at the National Mall in Washington D.C. to celebrate the kick off of a $100 million monument to the slain civil rights leader scheduled to be completed in 2008.
The King Memorial will be the first monument to an African-American on the National Mall.
In 1985 during the 99th Congress, Senator Sarbanes introduced legislation to authorize the construction of a memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington D.C. The fight for a memorial was finally won in the 104th Congress, when Congress approved the bill as part of the Omnibus Parks Bill. On November 12, 1996, President Clinton signed the legislation that would authorize construction of a memorial for Dr. King.
Senator Sarbanes introduced another bill to enable the memorial to be constructed in “Area I” of the capital. Area I is the most visited and respected sections on the capital.
On June 22, 1998, the House of Representatives passed its version of the legislation, and on June 25, 1998, the Senate followed by passing the bill. President Clinton signed the legislation on July 16 bringing it into effect.
After the site was decided upon, an international design competition was held and a winner was chosen in September 2000.
Dr. King is remembered as a minister and civil rights leader who broke racial barriers and fought for the rights of disenfranchised African Americans.
Some feel that this memorial is a little too late. Kevin Smith, an African American living in Sacramento, said, “In my opinion this memorial is a little late, but in all honesty, better late than never.”
Smith continued to say that Dr. King was not a Black Hero, but, in fact, an American hero.