A Monument of Hope... Love... Justice... and Peace Celebrating the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Dedicated on the National Mall on August 28, 2011
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In Memoriam Dr. Calvin W. Rolark, Sr. Wilhelmina J. Rolark THE WASHINGTON INFORMER NEWSPAPER (ISSN#0741-9414) is published weekly on each Thursday. Periodicals postage paid at Washington, D.C. and additional mailing offices. News and advertising deadline is Monday prior to publication. Announcements must be received two weeks prior to event. Copyright 2010 by The Washington Informer. All rights reserved. POSTMASTER: Send change of addresses to The Washington Informer, 3117 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave., S.E. Washington, D.C. 20032. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. The Informer Newspaper cannot guarantee the return of photographs. Subscription rates are $45 per year, two years $60. Papers will be received not more than a week after publication. Make checks payable to: THE WASHINGTON INFORMER 3117 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave., S.E Washington, D.C. 20032 Phone: 202 561-4100 Fax: 202 574-3785 email@example.com www.washingtoninformer.com
PUBLISHER Denise Rolark Barnes STAFF Shantella Y. Sherman, Managing Editor Ron Burke, Advertising/ Marketing Director Victor Holt, Photo Editor Lafayette Barnes, IV, Assistant Photo Editor John E. De Freitas, Sports Photo Editor Dorothy Rowley, Online Editor Paul Trantham, Circulation Manager Brian Young, Design & Layout Ken Harris /www.scsworks.com, Webmaster Mable Neville, Bookkeeper Mickey Thompson, Social photographer REPORTERS Tracey Gold Bennett, Eve M. Ferguson, Elton Hayes, Ben Koconis, Hannah Ross, Barrington M. Salmon, James Wright PHOTOGRAPHERS John E. De Freitas, Roy Lewis, Khalid Naji-Allah, Shevry Lassiter
s president and CEO of the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, I am pleased to present to you this special issue in which we honor the visionary leader. On August 28, 2011, the Foundation will officially dedicate the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in our nation’s capital. The dedication will occur on the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington where Dr. King delivered his historic “I Have A Dream” speech. Together, with President Barack Obama as our keynote speaker, we will stand on the new Memorial’s beautiful grounds on the National Mall, and we will celebrate this momentous achievement. In January, President Obama issued a proclamation on the 25th anniversary of the Martin Luther King, Jr., federal holiday. It read, in part, “Half a century ago, America was moved by a young preacher who called a generation to action and forever changed the course of history. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. devoted his life to the struggle for justice and equality, sowing seeds of hope for a day when all people might claim “the riches of freedom and the security of justice.” The vision of a memorial in honor of Dr. King is one that captures the essence of his message, a message in which he so eloquently affirms the commanding tenants of the American Dream — Freedom, Democracy and Opportunity for All; a noble quest that gained him the Nobel Peace Prize and one that continues to influence people and societies throughout the world. Upon reflection, we are reminded that Dr. King’s lifelong dedication to the idea of achieving human dignity through global relationships of well being has served to instill a broader and deeper sense of duty within each of us— a duty to be both responsible citizens and conscientious stewards of freedom and democracy. Thank you for joining us on August 28 at the Dedication. Sincerely, Harry E. Johnson, Sr.
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Celebrates The Washington Informer
the Martin Luther King, Jr.
National Memorial …and we salute those who played a part in making it a reality.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a long and hard fought battle for civil and human rights on behalf of every American. His commitment to this cause ended with a tremendous sacrifice that will never be forgotten. Thanks to the tireless efforts of those who contributed unselfishly to the building of a national monument in his honor on the National Mall, Dr. King’s life and words will be memorialized forever. We are grateful to be a part of this historic occasion by sharing many untold stories and reflections from the movement, and by documenting the celebration and preserving “our story” in The Washington Informer. Denise Rolark Barnes • Publisher
About The Washington Informer
Now published by Denise Rolark Barnes, The Washington Informer Newspaper Co. Inc. was founded on October 16, 1964 by Dr Calvin Rolark, in order to highlight positive images of African Americans. We continue to only do positive news, as we strive to EDUCATE, EMPOWER, and INFORM. We serve metropolitan Washington DC, and are now reaching over 50,000 readers each week through our award winning newspaper print edition; a monthly average of 30,000 unique visitors through our award winning website; 7,500 weekly subscribers through our weekly email newsletter, and potentially 300,000 viewers through our Washington Informer TV Show. The Washington Informer 3117 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE Washington DC 20032 202-561-4100 • FAX 202-574-3785 washingtoninformer.com • Follow us on Facebook
Celebrating the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial - The Washington Informer Special Issue / august 2011
Greetings from THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
o the residents of the District of Columbia and the hundreds of thousands of visitors who have come to our city for the historic events surrounding the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, I extend my heartiest welcome to our nation’s beautiful capital city. This week is monumental not only for the United States, but especially for the District. I join Harry E. Johnson, Sr., President and CEO of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Foundation, Inc., in inviting you to attend the official events and activities planned for the remainder of the week. In addition, there will be a number of Districtsponsored screenings, receptions, performances and other events taking place throughout the city. For a full schedule of D.C.specific events associated with the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, please visit www.dc.gov. Sadly, for the 600,000 Americans who reside in the District of Columbia, Dr. King’s dream remains unfulfilled. That’s why I urge District residents and friends to salute his legacy this
week by embracing his powerful declaration that “now is the time to make real the promise of democracy” and his historic 1965 call for Congress “to make justice and freedom a reality for all citizens in the District of Columbia.” Join us at Freedom Plaza (Pennsylvania Avenue & 14th Street NW) for the D.C. Full Democracy Freedom March on Saturday, August 27, 2011 at 8:30 a.m. The rally will feature civil-rights leaders, elected officials, celebrities and other supporters of the District’s right to self-determination and autonomy. Without question, this week promises to be one of the most memorable in D.C. history. Together we will continue to honor Dr. King’s legacy by working to fulfill his dream. Yours in the Struggle for Justice and Freedom, Vincent Gray Mayor of the District of Columbia
Greetings from Prince George’s County
n 1963, when a young Baptist preacher from Georgia stood before a crowd of thousands assembled on the National Mall, he spoke about segregation, injustice, and discrimination. But he also spoke of hope. Standing in the shadow of Lincoln’s Memorial, looking out toward the Washington Monument and the United States Capitol, he told us about his dream. In that moment, the National Mall acquired another landmark. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s“I Have a Dream” speech settled into the landscape of our nation’s capital with the same gravity and history as the memorials to Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson, and to veterans of the Vietnam, Korean, and Second World Wars. It is fitting that we now have a monument celebrating the man who challenged us to “lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.” This event holds special meaning for me, and for Prince George’s County. Every American feels compelled to live a better life by the teachings of Dr. King. Our calling in Prince George’s County is especially clear. As one of the most diverse
counties in the nation, we are working to live out Dr. King’s dream of tolerance, opportunity, and equality every day. Every student that succeeds in school; every family striving to build a better life; every improvement that we make in the safety and security of our community is a victory for his legacy. In that way, Prince George’s County is a living memorial to Dr. King. And so it is with great respect and pride that we greet the unveiling of the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. It sets in stone what we have written in our hearts: the image of a man who dreamt of something better for America. He said that the “goal of America is freedom,” and he taught us how to fix our eyes on that goal. May this memorial remind all of us to lift our national policy to the rock of human dignity. May it give us the strength to climb the mountain, to fight for justice, and to live up to his dream. Sincerely, Rushern L. Baker, III Prince George’s County Executive
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ºº The memorial is designed as a full sensory experience with several passages taken from King’s sermons and speeches, water and stone landscaping and King’s appearance hewn from granite in the “Stone of Hope.”
ºº Upon completion of the memorial, it will be administered by the National Park Service, which will be responsible for ongoing operation and maintenance
ºº The memorial does not include King’s well-known dream speech, but other lesser known works.
Mission and Vision Statement of the Memorial Project
Mission Statement To commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by leading a collaborative funding, design, and construction process in the creation of a memorial to honor his national and international contributions to world peace through non-violent social change. Vision Statement Dr. King championed a movement that draws fully from the deep well of America’s potential for freedom, opportunity, and justice. His vision of America is captured in his message of hope and possibility for a future anchored in dignity, sensitivity, and mutual respect; a message that challenges each of us to recognize that America’s true strength lies in its diversity of talents. The vision of a memorial in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. is one that captures the essence of his message, a message in which he so eloquently affirms the commanding tenants of the American Dream — Freedom, Democracy and Opportunity for All; a noble quest that gained him the Nobel Peace Prize and one that continues to influence people and societies throughout the world. Upon reflection, we are reminded that Dr. King’s lifelong dedication to the idea of achieving human dignity through global relationships of well being has served to instill a broader and deeper sense of duty within each of us— a duty to be both responsible citizens and conscientious stewards of freedom and democracy. About the memorial ºº The street address for the memorial will be 1964 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC, with “1964” chosen as a direct reference to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a milestone in the Civil Rights movement in which King played such an important role. The memorial will be located on a 4-acre site on the National Mall that borders the Tidal Basin. It will be adjacent to the FDR Memorial and will create a visual “line of leadership” from the Lincoln Memorial, where King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington, to the Jefferson Memorial ºº The centerpiece for the memorial will be based on a line from King’s “I have a dream” speech: “Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” A 30-foot high statue of King named the “Stone of Hope” will stand past two other pieces of granite that symbolize the “mountain of despair.” Visitors will literally “pass through” the Mountain of Despair on the way to the Stone of Hope, symbolically “moving through the struggle as Dr. King did during his life.” ºº Visitors will enter through an opening in a boulder, called the “Mountain of Despair,” meant to symbolize the civil rights struggle.
Celebrating the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial - The Washington Informer Special Issue / august 2011
“We may not be on top of the mountain yet, but everyday this nation edges closer to the day that Dr. King
~ Rushern L Baker, III
county, MD WE CELEBRATE THE DREAM . . . . WE ARE THE
~ Rushern L Baker, III County Executive
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Celebrating the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial - The Washington Informer Special Issue / august 2011
Dr. King's Legacy: Education
am a graduate of Morehouse College, and sat on the Board of Trustees at Morehouse as a student representative with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his father. I was an usher at Dr. King’s funeral. I recall vividly, in the aftermath of the assassination, sleeping in my room with buckets of water and being taken to places hidden in the middle of the night for fear that further violence, including bombs and cocktails, against Morehouse students and faculty was yet to come. Today, I am Chairman and Founder of Friendship Public Charter School, which serves nearly 8,000 children on eleven campuses in disadvantaged communities in Washington D.C. and Baltimore. Our school grew out of Friendship House, a community nonprofit that assisted low-income families, which I ran. I believe that we cannot have good communities in the District without good schools, good jobs and good housing. Friendship provides to underserved neighborhoods educational opportunities that are typically available in private and selective public schools. Our mission is to graduate literate, ethical, well-rounded children who will contribute to the communities in which they live. Dr. King’s belief in the power of education to change lives, minds and communities—including those of his opponents, whose violent threats and acts terrorized people, and one day took his own life—inspires and energizes me. This belief influ-
ences every aspect of Friendship and our work with young people. When I opened our flagship charter high school, Collegiate Academy, on Minnesota Avenue in Southeast D.C.—the first in D.C.—the high-school graduation rate in the District was barely 50 percent. Today, Friendship Collegiate Academy graduates 96 percent of our students, and 100 percent are accepted to college. Over the past three years, our graduates have earned over $25 million in scholarships. We offer academically rigorous Advanced Placement and Early College classes, helping prepare students for college-level work and enabling them to earn college credit. Nearly one-third of all African-American students who took the AP U.S. government and politics course last year did so at Collegiate Academy. Their pass rate was comparable to students who live in D.C.’s most affluent neighborhoods. Our Early College students have earned more than 3,000 college credits, representing more than 20 different college courses. Today we remember the extraordinary life of Dr. King. Friendship’s work in disadvantaged communities is unfinished—however, like Dr. King, despite the obstacles we remain determined to succeed. By Donald Hense, Chairman of Friendship Public Charter School
We Thank You Dr. King You Paved the WAY! Now in its 72nd year, the Greater Washington Urban League continues to provide a wide range of services including education, employment and training; health promotion; food and emergency utility assistance; and housing and community development that serve more than 65,000 persons each year. The mission of the League is "to increase the economic and political empowerment of African Americans and other minorities and to help all Americans share equally in the responsibilities and rewards of full citizenship.” To accomplish its mission, the League uses the tools and methods of social work, economics, law and other disciplines to bring about equal opportunities and equal access to African Americans and minorities in the Washington metropolitan area. One of 98 affiliates of the National Urban League, the GWUL is a member agency of the United Way of the National Capital Area. For more information please visit www.gwul.org.
Jerry A. Moore llll Chair, Board of Directors
The Greater Washington Urban League 2901 14th Street, NW Washington, DC 20009 202-265-8200, www.gwul.org
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Maudine R. Cooper President and CEO
MTTG Joint Venture presented the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation a $1 million gift to support the national memorial honoring the life and legacy of Dr. King. From left to right: Christian E. Jahrling, vice president and general manager, Turner Construction Company; Henry Gilford, president and CEO, Gilford Corporation; Ed Jackson, Jr., executive architect, Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Foundation; Harry E. Johnson, Sr., president and CEO, Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Foundation; Deryl McKissack, president and CEO, McKissack & McKissack; Hilton Smith, senior vice president, Turner Construction; Richard W. Marshall, chief financial officer, Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Foundation.
Companies Pull Together to Make Massive King Memorial By Steve Monroe Special to The Informer
y family’s private memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. consists of a handful of color photos from the mid 1950s when -- long before he became world famous -- he gave the commencement address at my uncle’s graduation from BethuneCookman College in Daytona Beach, Fla. Others certainly have their own remembrances in the form of commemorative photos of King, portraits of him in his prime, or photos of the March on Washington, the massed
crowd on the Mall and him speaking that day. Thanks to the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the MLK Memorial Foundation, U.S Congress participation, and public and private donors for getting the project off the ground, and Turner Construction, McKissack & McKissack, Tompkins Builders and the Gilford Corp. for getting in the trenches to get the work done, the whole world will soon have a massive $120 memorial to King on the National Mall for all to see and experience. The foundation has set plans for the official dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National
Memorial in West Potomac Park on Sunday, August 28, 2011, the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King’s historic I Have A Dream speech. The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is planned as the first on the National Mall to honor a man of hope, a man of peace, and a man of color. Located on the Tidal Basin, the memorial is to create a visual line of leadership between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, and The memorial will be an “engaging landscape experience conveying four fundamental and recurring themes throughout Dr. King’s life – democracy, justice,
hope, and love” – and features the use of natural elements including water, stone, and trees, according to foundation information. A 450-foot inscription wall will feature more than a dozen Dr. King quotes engraved into granite to serve as a testament and reminder of Dr. King’s humanitarian vision, and include pieces called the “Mountain of Despair” and the “Stone of Hope,” with its 30-foot sculpture of Dr. King. I’m extremely pleased with the how the construction has progressed on the project. Obviously there are challenges on any
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project of this magnitude; however, with the intellectual horsepower that was committed to this project, we were able to resolve the challenges and accomplish the client’s schedule goal,” said Darien C. Grant, the 21-year Turner Construction Company Executive who has overseen the project to completion this year. “I also want to say that the MLK Foundation has done a phenomenal job in organizing and leading the project. If you go back to when they first started planning the project, through preconstruction and now at the
See MTTG on Page 11 www.washingtoninformer.com
“It’s pretty rare to have the opportunity to build a national memorial on the mall in Washington, D.C. That in itself is pretty amazing..." – Lisa Anders, McKissack & Mckissack MTTG continued from Page 10 completion, their team has defined excellence. “And when you come to the sight, you will see the spirit, and teamwork of the companies that came together to do the project. And I think you will leave with a sense of the personal excellence, from the spirit of Dr. King’s life … that carried over to the work that this team did in the design work and the quality of construction.” “The joint venture team in charge of designing and building is two majority firms, Turner and Tompkins, and two minority firms, McKissack and Gilford,” said Anders, senior project manager for the project for the MTTG Joint Venture. “It has gone well, we’ve been able to work great as a team along with [the foundation] to have a successful project.” Tompkins Builders project manager Andrew Craig agreed and said, “At this point the memorial is basically done … we’ll be doing work on sidewalks and roadways over the next few weeks and some other things like that but that’s it.” One part of the project that was important to all participants was minority and women business participation. “Yes, the foundation set some requirements in the contract, to subcontract with minority businesses or women owned businesses or small disadvantaged businesses,” said Craig. He said the goal was to award up to 36 percent of the trades work (such as plumbing, electrical, concrete work, drywall, mechanical jobs) to those groups. “And we had a goal for 51 percent. But at this point we are in the 80 percent range so we blew away those goals.” Henry Gilford, CEO of Gilford Corp. of Beltsville, said, “It has been a great working relationship. I have worked on a number of joint ventures and I can say this one was a great one. Even though there were three firms working on this, we all did the work as one firm collectively. “And it’s very special for me because I’ve been pursuing this www.washingtoninformer.com
project since I first heard about in 2001, and ultimately I wanted to be a part of this project, so I was thoroughly happy to be selected to be a part of it.” “We are extremely humbled by MTTG Joint Venture’s million dollar gift, which moves us one step closer to our $120 million fundraising goal. MTTG has been a wonderful partner for the duration of this project, and I am honored to work by their side to create the first memorial on the National Mall celebrating a man of hope, a man of peace, and a man of color,” said Harry E. Johnson, Sr., president and CEO of the MLK Memorial Foundation. “I applaud the MTTG DREAM Design Build Scholarship program and strongly encourage students interested in pursuing higher education in fields related to construction, engineering, and design across the Washington metropolitan region to apply.” MLK Memorial Foundation press release, March 3, 2011
Getting it done On June 5, 2007 the foundation announced the selection of the McKissack & McKissack, Turner Construction, Tompkins Builders, Gilford Corp. team to design and build the memorial. McKissack & McKissack, led by Deryl McKissack, is a woman-owned architecture and program/construction management firm with offices in Washington, Baltimore, Chicago and Miami. With 140 employees, its roots go back to Deryl McKissack’s family starting a building firm in Nashville, Tenn., more than 100 years ago. McKissack & McKissack was charged with providing overall project management, with work including architectural; landscaping; geotechnical; storm water management and sediment control; surveying; permits; presentations to Commission of Fine Arts, National Capital Planning Commission and National Park Service; subsurface investigation; and hazardous materials testing Turner Construction of New York is a worldwide general contractor with its Mid-Atlantic
office in Arlington, Va., and has a long record in utilizing small firms and minority/womenowned businesses. Gilford Corp. of Beltsville, founded by Henry Gilford in 1984, is a well-known African-American owned, construction company. Tompkins Builders, a long time Washington, D.C., builder, became a subsidiary of Turner Construction in 2003. Craig said of the work on the memorial, “All major issues have been resolved now, some being resolved within the last week.” He added that early on there was an issue regarding wheelchair accessibility. “It involved the configuration of the benches that were planned,” he said. “We needed to incorporate accessibility, because the rules are different with this being a park setting as compared to an inside space. Finally even though we were butting heads, we came up with a solution that met park service needs and pleased the [foundation] owner all at the same time.” According to foundation information, the memorial plans included 340 structural piles, a 2,350-cubic-foot granite wall weighing 194 tons, 47,000 square feet of granite paving, granite sculptures and the installation of 185 Yoshino cherry trees, 32 American elm trees and 16,835 pieces of Big Blue Liriope plantings. Construction milestones included mobilization, involving erecting secure fencing, setting up tree protection zones, demolishing existing landscape, selecting trees to be planted on the memorial and selecting stone to be used for the memorial plaza, sculptures and inscription wall; infrastructure, including utility construction, site grading and foundation preparation. “The site of the MLK Memorial is composed of soil that is very soft and damp and will not sufficiently support the weight of the completed memorial,” said foundation information. “Therefore, columns made of reinforced concrete or steel H-beams - called “piles” are driven 50 to 60 feet into the earth until they encounter solid bedrock. A concrete slab sits on
top of the piles and the entire memorial is built on top of this slab. This type of construction will prevent the memorial from sinking onto the soil.” Creating the art work, including the completion of the sculpting of Dr. King’s image out of stone by Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin and his team, and landscaping were the final stages. “Our substantial completion date is Aug. 17 and we’re on schedule,” said Tompkins Builders’ David Tweedie, general superintendent for the construction on the project, and a veteran of many large-scale construction projects, including work on the World War II Memorial on the Mall, which opened in 2004. Craig said the actual King sculpture is completed and would be covered in the days leading to the dedication, with the main task to check it every now and then to make sure it stays clean. On the issue of the sculptor controversy, with some complaints about a Chinese sculptor being selected to do such a major African-American hero, Grant would only say that for the companies doing the work, “that was not part of our scope. The foundation made the decision and hired the sculptor through an international design competition.” “It’s a significant milestone in American history, and ironically its completion and dedication coincided under the tenure of President Obama being in office,. But probably more important is the magnitude of the project … it’s not just a small monument, but something I believe will be one of the most spectacular monuments in Washington DC.” Darien Grant, Turner Construction Company.
Personal meanings The meaning of the project to those in the companies that worked on it has proved to be very significant in view of its scope, and who the memorial is for, several of the company officials said. “I think for anybody that is in this career,” said Anders of McKissack & Mckissack, who has 18 years of construction
project management experience and received her undergraduate civil engineering degree from Howard University. “It’s pretty rare to have the opportunity to build a national memorial on the mall in Washington, D.C. That in itself is pretty amazing … and for me personally to build one in honor of Dr. King, brings home all the principles he strived for as far as civil rights, and having minorities being involved in this project exemplifies some of the struggles he fought for in civil rights. And for me it was way more than civil rights, it was all of his teachings regarding human rights and world peace.” Tweedie of Tompkins, 52, and only in elementary school when King was assassinated in 1968, said one thrill for him was meeting and shaking hands with Andrew Young and Martin Luther King III during one group’s recent tour of the project. “I thought that was awesome. I think [working on the project] has enlarged me … I feel I have learned, being exposed to this experience …and I feel better for it.” Grant said, “I grew up in my early years in the Bronx, then my family moved to Richmond. I’m a fanatic about keeping stuff, and [regarding remembrances of Dr. King] I can probably go back to something I wrote in first grade [about him], and every year I would choose Dr. King to write about … he has a high degree of personal significance for me.” “Remember, I grew up in the South,” said Gilford. “I grew up in Alabama, about 75 miles south of Montgomery, and the civil rights movement actually started in the 1950s,” said Gilford. “And I was at Alabama A&M in the 1960s when the civil rights movement was at its height. So that’s some of the reason why I put so much effort in being a part of this project. It’s hard to describe in words how big this is, to have an African American honored in such a way and to have it on the mall.”
Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On August 28th, America will celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who spent his adult life selflessly advocating for the rights of others. As we honor Dr. King and his legacy, let us be ever mindful that the work, while advanced is not finished. The baton has been passed to us, each of us - all of us. It is said that, "Every day of life is God's gift to us. What we choose to do with this life, is our gift to Him." When the celebrations have ended, and we return to our regular routines, let us all reflect upon Dr. King's legacy, and consider God's gift to us - then strive to quantify our gifts back to Him through the work and activity of our daily lives. In doing this we not only honor the legacy, and the gift, we advance the baton and take the steps necessary to make "the dream" our reality. Industrial Bank is proud to join in the celebration honoring Dr. King, and we continue to strive to make his dream a reality for all people in the community we serve.
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January 1984 George Sealey is catalyst
December, 2006 Council of Historians
for convening Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity brothers Alfred Bailey, Oscar Little, Eddie Madison, and John Harvey, to propose building a national memorial to Dr. King. Their proposal is presented at the Fraternity’s Board of Director’s meeting, under the administration of General President Ozell Sutton.
recommends Dr. King’s words for the
November 12, 1996 President Clinton signs Congressional legislation proposing the establishment of a Memorial in the District of Columbia to honor Dr. King.
January 18, 2008 The Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc. today launches The “Build the Dream Blog” to blog ongoing efforts to “Build The Dream,” as well as news and events related to those efforts - and, of course, to Dr. King.
April 4, 2008 The Washington, DC Martin
May 28, 1998 Charter for the Washington,
Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project
DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc. approved.
Foundation, Inc. today launches The March
June 22, 1998 House Joint Resolution 113 passed by the United States House of Representatives, giving the project Area 1 status.
June 25, 1998 Senate Joint Resolution 41 was passed by the United States Senate, giving the project Area 1 status.
October 1, 1998 National Capital Memorial Commission approved Area 1 – Constitutional Gardens.
September 12, 2000 The entry submitted by ROMA Design Group of San Francisco, California was selected as the winning design.
to Build the Dream” a “Friends Asking Friends” which brings friends and families together to form teams and help raise money to support the foundation.
November 25, 2008 Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Foundation Leadership to Provide Briefing to Civil Rights Pioneers.
Launches “Facebook” to Assist With Fundraising Efforts.
April 2, 2009 Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Implements “Text Messaging” as an Effective Fundraising Tool.
October 29, 2009 Secretary of the Interior
Planning Commission (NCPC) Unanimously Approves Preliminary Design for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial.
Ken Salazar today signed a permit allowing
launched the Dream Keepers College Program to engage college students across the country in efforts to build a Memorial in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.
March, 2006 Memorial Foundation begins the purchase of long-lead items such as the selection and tagging of oak trees for the Memorial site.
October, 2006 Memorial Foundation Design Team visits China, touring granite quarries and fabrication sites.
November 13, 2006 Thousands attend the Ceremonial Groundbreaking on the National Mall,
March 17, 2009 Memorial Foundation
December 1, 2005 National Capital
January 17, 2006 Memorial Foundation
construction of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall.
July 30, 2010 The MLK Construction Section of the “Build the Dream” website has launched. The new section includes construction updates, an interactive timeline,
and The MLK Construction Cam.
October 8, 2010 Bernice King and Martin Luther King, III, children of the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Visits Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Site.
May 10, 2011 MLK Memorial Foundation Announces Plans for August 28 MLK Memorial Dedication
THERE’S ONLY ONE CHANCE TO BE A PART OF HISTORY
Powerful Moments. Inspiring Memorials. He dreamed of a world with equality for all. Today, his dream lives on at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. DC invites you to experience Dr. King’s enduring message of love, hope, democracy and justice. Plan your visit to DC’s newest memorial at washington.org/mlk or by calling 800-422-8644.
MLK-14 august 2011 / Celebrating the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial - The Washington Informer Special Issue
KING Memorial Design
t the entry portal, two stones are parted and a single stone wedge is pushed forward toward the horizon; the missing piece of what was once a single boulder. The smooth insides of the portal contrast the rough outer surfaces of the boulder. Beyond this portal, the stone appears to have been thrust into the plaza, wrested from the boulder and pushed forward – it bears signs of a great monolithic struggle. On the visible side of the stone, the theme of hope is presented, with the text from King’s famed 1963 speech cut sharply into the stone: “Out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” On the other side are inscribed these words: “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness”, a statement suggested by Dr. King himself when describing how he would like to be remembered. The boulder is the Mountain of Despair, through which every visitor will enter, moving through the struggle as Dr. King did during his life, and then be released into the open freedom of the plaza. The solitary stone is the Stone of Hope, from which Dr. King’s image emerges, gazing over the Tidal Basin toward the horizon, seeing a future society of justice and equality for which he encouraged all citizens to strive.
eral reasons. Primarily, the entire memorial design is derived from King’s most memorable speech; given the limited room for sharing his message and the breadth of his work, the overall design itself is the mark of respect for the moving words from 1963. The other reason for not including the Dream Speech is that it is Dr. King’s best known speech out of the hundreds he delivered. It is the most taught piece of his work in schools, and, at minimum, the history books reference the famed speech when presenting Dr. King’s role in American History. But key messages that have and will continue to withstand the
test of time are lesser known, and this memorial presented the opportunity to shift the focus of attention from one example of Dr. King’s inspirational words to many.
Along the Tidal Basin, Yoshino cherry blossom trees have thrived since 1912 – a gift from Japan as a sign of peace and unity. For only two weeks each spring, their tiny blossoms surround the Basin in a cloud of delicate pink and white. Spring resonates with the spirit of hope, rebirth and renewal; the King Memorial has added 182 cherry blossoms to the Tidal Ba-
sin’s collection. Poetically, each year the peak blooming period for the trees coincides with the anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, April 4th. To prolong the message of renewed hope embodied by the cherry trees, crape myrtles have also been planted in the memorial. Crape myrtles bloom throughout the summer months and into the fall, prolonging the burst of color and encouraging a sense of endurance and faith. Along West Basin Drive and Independence Avenue 31 American elm trees have been planted, not only as the standard street tree of Washington, DC, but also as a border surrounding the
memorial, embracing Dr. King as an American icon.
Drawing on its location at the edge of the Tidal Basin, water is used as an essential element that builds on King’s words and recalls most powerfully the theme of justice. The water appears only on either side of the main entry, not even visible until one has entered the memorial plaza. It is the sound of water “rolling down” that will draw a visitor’s attention. From this life-giving source, Dr. King’s message begins stretching away from the entrance, at once welcoming and yet daring the visitor to follow.
The element of the memorial which truly captures Dr. King’s legacy is the Inscription Wall – this element transforms a mere monument into a living memorial. Fourteen of Dr. King’s most notable quotes are engraved on a 450-foot crescent shaped granite wall. The quotes span the too-short career of Dr. King, the earliest taken from his rise during the Montgomery Bus Boycotts in Alabama, 1955. The latest quote, appropriately, was taken from his last sermon delivered in Washington, DC at the National Cathedral in 1968, four days before his assassination. The quotes are not placed chronologically, allowing any visitor to begin reading from any location within the memorial, not requiring them to follow a defined path. The quotes selected are those which are most representative Dr. King’s universal and timeless messages of Justice, Democracy, Hope and Love. None of the inscriptions are from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, for sevwww.washingtoninformer.com
Because of him, we all live better. Walmart is proud to sponsor the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial and its dedication ceremony. As we remember the dream, we are inspired to honor the greatness of his life, his dream and his legacy. And we renew our efforts to help make his vision come to life for us all.
MLK-16 august 2011 / Celebrating the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial - The Washington Informer Special Issue Job No.: WAL-15495
King: A Molder of Consensus
he nation’s capital is not only home to the newly unveiled Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, but it also a place where many of its denizens are former colleagues and friends of Dr. King. Others are participants in the marches he led. A few of them took time to share their memories of Dr. King with the Informer.
Dr. Robert Williams, 66, Family Medicine Physician, Howard University Hospital
I was a volunteer physician during [the March on Washington that was connected to] the Poor People’s Campaign. But I got the opportunity to praise Dr. Dorothy Height the last several years of her life and I was always filled with delight hearing her talk of the Civil Rights
Movement and how she had given of her time at the March on Washington. She said at one point she had been the only woman asked to speak, and that she said she preferred Dr. King to speak instead. I had no personal relationship with Dr. King but just hearing her talk about his accomplishments with the struggle served to enlighten me that much more about him.
Roger Newell, 61, Teamsters Union Official
I grew up in D.C. and it would be the 1963 March on Washington, particularly the city’s preparation and the huge turnout that stuck with me. I was a young student activist and was impressed with the logistics involved in handling more than 250,000 people. I had a chance to watch Dr. King and those associated with the civil rights struggle, work their magic to make sure the participants would be cared for properly.
Michael Fauntroy, 45, Political Analyst, George Mason University
My uncle Walter Fauntroy was one of Martin Luther
King’s lieutenants. But my fondest memory of Dr. King was watching the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There is a picture of my uncle standing next to King watching him sign the document.
Paula Young Shelton, 50, youngest daughter of civil rights leader Andrew Young
What I remember most about Dr. King is his very warm and friendly interaction with me and with other children; that he was always very attentive to children. I have this vision of him with open arms, smiling whenever I would be around him. He would pick us up and throw us up in the air like fathers like to do. We very rarely accompanied our parents on the marches, as
they were very careful about shielding us from any danger. But in the third Selma to Montgomery march, my mother decided that she wanted to participate so they brought my two sisters and me along. We were there for one day and then they took us to our grandparents’ house while my mother and father continued on in the march. I’ve shared some of these memories in a children’s book that I wrote about the Civil Rights Movement, because I wanted children to know what a kind and gentle person Dr. King was. He was a real human being and not just an icon or a statue. He was a real person who cared deeply about the lives of children – his own and others’ and wanted to make this place a better world for them.
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MLK-18 august 2011 / Celebrating the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial - The Washington Informer Special Issue
Dr. King with fellow members of Alpha Phi Alpha / Courtesy photo
Members of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity light candles before a wreath at the Martin Luther King tree in the War Memorial Student Union Park on the campus of Southern Louisiana University during a ceremony held each year to celebrate the legacy of the late Civil Rights leader. / Courtesy photo
King Memorial, a Major Project of Alpha Phi Alpha By James Wright WI Staff Writer
istrict resident Talmadge Roberts cannot wait until Sun., Aug. 28 to go to the National Mall for the festivities honoring his fraternity brother. Roberts, 80, is a long-time member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the driving force behind the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, which is located on the Mall. A member of Alpha since 1955, when he joined Howard University’s undergraduate chapter, Roberts said that the King memorial is a testament to his fraternity’s efforts to honor their distinguished “brother.” “I believe in what Martin Luther King did during his life and I followed his career,” Roberts said. “I was at the March on Washington in 1963 when he delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and I have supported the brotherhood’s effort to honor him on the Mall. The question
was whether we would be able to pull it off.” Alpha Phi Alpha was founded on Dec. 4, 1906 on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. by seven men who have become known as the “Jewels” to members of the fraternity. It is recognized as the world’s first Black collegiate Greek letter fraternity. Today, Alpha has initiated approximately 185,000 members and has there are over 680 active chapters in the Americas, Africa, Europe, Caribbean, and Asia. Roberts is a member of the District-based Mu Lambda chapter, one of the oldest units of Alpha that consists of members who have graduated from or were initiated in college. Roberts, of Northwest, said that he heard about the building a statute of King in the District after the civil rights leader was slain in Memphis in 1968. When the King Holiday became a reality in 1983, members of the fraternity began to focus on a national memorial, said Robert L. Harris, the historian
of Alpha. “Five alumni members of Alpha Phi Alpha were sitting around a dinner table in Silver Spring in 1983, discussing the idea of a national memorial to Dr. King in Washington,” Harris, 68, said. “They looked for something more tangible than a national holiday. They wanted something that would help millions of visitors, from the United States and abroad each year to Washington, D.C., to remember Dr. King, especially young people.” Harris said that the five members brought the idea to the Alpha Board of Directors in 1984 and it was approved in the 1985 general convention despite skepticism about the ability to raise $100 million for the project. Roberts remembers the enthusiasm for the projects-and the concerns. “We thought it was just great idea to have something for Brother King on the Mall,” he said. “However, some of us, quietly, were wondering whether we could raise $100 million to do us.
We were thinking ‘can we really pull this off ?” Members of the fraternity spent the next 11 years lobbying the U.S. Congress to support the building the memorial on the Mall, Harris said. On Nov. 12, 1996, President Bill Clinton signed legislation allowing the fraternity to raise money to build the memorial. Roberts said that his fellow Alphas were happy that the Congress and Clinton supported the project. “But now it was up to us to make the memorial a reality,” he said. The fraternity charged its active members a one-time assessment for the memorial and worked to get the support of corporations, wealthy individuals, other Black organizations and others who were interested in the legacy of King. Harry E. Johnson, a former general president of Alpha, was selected as the president of the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc.
William Lyles, the executive director and chief operating officer, said powerful chapters in Alpha such as the one that Roberts belongs to was the key. “We have gotten a lot of support from all of our chapters but out powerhouse chapters, such as those in Washington, Atlanta and Baltimore have really stepped to the plate in terms of moving the King Memorial forward,” Lyle, 36, said. Harris said that the King Memorial was the fraternity’s biggest campaign. “Indeed, this was Alpha’s biggest project, larger than the campaign for a new national headquarters,” he said. Roberts said that on Aug. 28, he will march with Alpha paraphernalia to Mall from his church, Asbury United Methodist Church in Northwest, with his wife, Mary to watch the dedication and the other festivities. “It is going to be a big day and I will be happy to say that I played a part in the building of the King Memorial,” he said.
Great leaders inspire us to do great things
Wells Fargo celebrates the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial You know it when it happens. An idea turns into a spark that ignites the spirit of a nation. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had that kind of idea. It was a dream of equality, service and progress for all people. Wells Fargo is proud to share these values. That’s why we’re committed to working with you and our community through national and local sponsorships, grants for nonproﬁt organizations and ﬁnancial education programs. Because our goal is to always empower and improve our community.
wellsfargo.com © 2011 Wells Fargo Bank N.A. All rights reserved.
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Civil Rights Icon Dorothy Cotton Shares Thoughts on King, the Memorial, and the Movement By Tracey Gold Bennett WI Staff Writer The water at the beach looked inviting, but Blacks were not invited; though there was hunger, they were not welcomed at the lunch counter, those books in the library... they were off limits. These scenarios may seem alien to today’s children, many who only know a country with an African-American president, who move about freely benefiting from the work of civil rights activists like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Dorothy Cotton, former education director of the Southern Christian Leadwww.washingtoninformer.com
ership Council (SCLC). But history shows there once was a time when open discrimination was rampant, and African Americans were caught in its vice grip. “The fact is black people couldn’t go in public places, black and white people couldn’t be together that has changed,” Cotton said, describing the racial climate in 1960. “I’m thrilled with the changes; we would not have had Barak Obama if not for the Civil Rights Movement.” Much has been written about the work of the men in the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King, Hosea Williams, the reverends Ralph Abernathy and Jesse Jack-
son, Andrew Young, and the Hon. John Lewis who was beaten up by police on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Al. Much less however, has been said about women like Cotton, Amelia Boynton Robinson (gassed and beat up on the bridge) and Jo Ann Robinson ( and her women’s organization) who planned a one day bus boycott in Montgomery Ala. “I love John Lewis but he was not the only one who was hurt on the bridge. Women didn’t get the media exposure that the men did and were programmed to push the men out front,” Cotton said. “Though the women may not
have gotten the recognition, they endured same discrimination and violence as men in the movement. A 1964 wade in at St. Augustine’s beach in Florida was marked by shouts of obscenities and violence for Cotton and the teenage girls that accompanied her. “I was beaten along with girls on St. Augustine’s beach,” she said. “Segregationists attacked Cotton and broke one girl’s nose for attempting to integrate the beach.” The only female member of King’s executive staff, Cotton ran the Citizenship Education Program, training people (some
of which had very little education) on the tenets of nonviolent resistance, and the importance of participating in the political process. Cotton, an educator, said working in the movement was a career path she had not initially planned. “It wasn’t anything pre-ordained he [Dr. King] saw something in me, in the energy that I brought, and he thought I was competent. I led grass roots training workshops helping people to understand that they don’t have to be victims,” she noted. “I was a member of the execu-
See COTTON on Page 23
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It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important. – Dr. King COTTON continued from Page 21 tive staff. The women’s movement didn’t begin until the 70’s but as education director, I was a part of all of the executive staff meetings.”
In the Beginning
Cotton met King in 1960. “It was in Petersburg, Va., when Dr. King came to speak at our church [Gillfield Baptist] because of our freedom struggle there. We could not use the public library, we couldn’t use most public facilities.” she recalled. “I was on the program.” Afterward, Cotton said King invited the Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker to move to Atlanta to join his team to address issues of racial inequality. Cotton, who was working on her master’s degree in speech therapy at Boston University, also received an invitation to move. She would go there to be Rev. Walker’s administrative assistant, a move which would change her destiny. “Women like Ella Baker, Lillie Hunter, and Ernestine Brown were already working in the newly developed SCLC office in Atlanta waiting for Dr. King to move there,” she said. “We were just getting the civil rights movement all over the South started. Dr. King was pastoring a church [Dexter Avenue Baptist Church] in Montgomery, Al. getting ready to move to Atlanta. There was no big movement at the time, but it grew very fast. It started to grow and expand, it grew like Topsy.” Topsy was a character in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle
Tom’s Cabin published in 1852. Cotton read the story as a child. Cotton said that women were at the center of events that gave the movement momentum. “There were tiny efforts going on,” during what Cotton describes as the early stages of the movement. “Rosa Parks didn’t move (from her seat on a Montgomery bus) and there were women who were organizing to protest segregation on public transportation.” The women had already decided to call a bus boycott, a one day boycott. After Park’s arrest, leaders in the community asked a 26year old Dr. King to lead their efforts and help fight the injustices including the rule that Blacks had to ride in the back of the bus. “Black people had to put money in the front, get off and walk around to the back of the bus and get on,” she said. “Mrs. Rosa Parks had not any grand plan, but she would not move.” Cotton recalled that King was in Montgomery when Parks was arrested. “The whole town came to her rescue. They [the police] had arrested this gentle seamstress,” she said. “People responded with righteous indignation.” Park’s arrest became a catalyst for a full-fledged Civil Rights Movement. A bus boycott ensued. “Black people decided if they didn’t stop the pattern of discrimination they would boycott. The bus company suffered from the 381-day boycott, Blacks walked to work -- the buses were not making any money,” said Cotton. A spate of demonstrations, nonviolent protests, boycotts and
lunch counter sit-ins spawned from the movement, around the country. “We tore down doors of change so we could walk through. You can live your whole life as a victim or if your back’s not bent you can begin to change that vicious pattern.” Perhaps some of the most notable examples of nonviolent protests were lunch counter sit-ins. In1960, four students in Greensboro, N.C. refused to leave the F. W. Woolworth store lunch counter because of the its policy against serving Blacks. “They were at the lunch counter and people poured hot coffee on them,” she said. “You don’t fight back with violence. Protect yourself or shield someone else if you can,” said Cotton. “But nonviolence is too important and too big, you must reach your opponent with a different understanding. Take the blows but if you punch back, you are destroying your goal. Nonviolence is a powerful force it is the weapon of love.”
The Final Day
‘Get a later flight,’ King’s last words to Dorothy Cotton. Cotton, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) education director, had to get back to Atlanta to complete planning for a citizenship education workshop (which she conducted every month). Dr. King had wanted Cotton to stay there in Memphis, Tennessee to help plan a workshop with people in the community. Later, King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. After King’s assassination,
Cotton continued her civil rights work and became Southern Regional Director for ACTION, the federal agency for volunteer programs. In addition to lecturing around the world and a career as Director of Student Activities at Cornell University, Cotton worked for three years with Mrs. Coretta Scott King at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for NonViolent Social Change in Atlanta. When asked if this country has now realized “The Dream” as described in King’s landmark speech during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Free-
dom, Cotton said we still have miles to go. “We’re on a journey, if you make a step, that’s only part of the journey. It’s never realized fully,” she said. Dorothy Cotton is a lifelong civil rights activist who was the highest ranking woman in the SCLC. She is also a speaker, singer, and visionary dedicated to social justice. She lives in Ithaca, New York. Cotton’s book If Your Back’s Not Bent: A Civil Rights Leader on the Roads from Victims to Victory will be published in March, 2012 by Atria (A Simon & Schuster imprint).
that my four little children will ...that my four little children will one one day day live in a nation where they will not not be live in a nation where they will be judged by the color of their skin judged by the color of their skin but but by the content of their character. by the content of their character.â€? â€“ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Pepco salutes the
Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial
May his dream become reality. and Dr. Kingâ€™s vision for justice, hope and opportunity for all.
MLK-24 august 2011 / Celebrating the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial - The Washington Informer Special Issue
Congressman John Lewis Speaks to the Informer about Dr. King and the Movement Often called “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced,” Congressman John Lewis (D-GA 5th District) has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties, and building what he calls “The Beloved Community” in America. His dedication to the highest ethical standards and moral principles has won him the admiration of many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the United States Congress. Lewis spoke exclusively with the Informer’s Tracey Gold Bennett about his work with Dr. King and the importance of the new memorial. When did you first become acquainted with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? Just before I finished high school I was 17 years old, I wrote a letter to Dr. King and I didn’t tell anyone. I wanted to attend www.washingtoninformer.com
a little school called Troy State College about ten miles from my home-- it is known as Troy University now and it didn’t admit Black students [back then]. I wanted to attend that school, and Dr. King wrote me back, sent me a roundtrip Greyhound bus ticket, and invited me to come to Montgomery to meet with him. On a Saturday morning, March of 1958, my father drove me to the Greyhound bus station. I boarded the bus and travelled the 50 miles from Troy to Montgomery, Ala. A young lawyer by the name of Fred Gray who had been the lawyer for Rosa Parks, Dr. King and the Montgomery movement met me and drove me to the First Baptist Church in downtown Montgomery. It was pastored by Dr. Abernathy a colleague of Dr. King. He ushered me into the pastor’s study where I saw Dr. King and Rev. Abernathy standing behind a desk. I was
so scared I didn’t know what to say or what to do. When were you aware that the work that you and Dr. King did would resonate around the world? During the events surrounding the March on Washington I became more convinced. Later I became fully convinced. I made a trip to Africa in the summer of 1964. Even before going to Africa, the NAACP had a slogan Free By ‘63 and there were young people teasing us in the student union at lunch that the whole of Africa would be free and liberated and we couldn’t get a hamburger at the lunch counter. Sometimes we had these sayings or slogans that the struggle in Selma is inseparable from the struggle in Johannesburg; Birmingham is inseparable from the struggle in Angola, or Zachary, Mississippi is inseparable from the struggle in Mozambique. When I spoke at the March on
Washington on Aug. 28, 1963 I was really working on my speech and I saw in a newspaper where a group of black women in southern Africa carrying signs which read “one man, one vote”. When did you know that the tide had changed with regard to gaining some of the rights that you sought? I knew when Dr. King had delivered a magnificent speech and the coverage it got. Also it became clear with the reaction our work got from members of Congress and when President Kennedy spoke to the nation about it. He said the issue of race is a moral issue. The March on Washington represented one of the finest hours in America. What are your thoughts about Dr. King’s monument on the National Mall? If someone had told me 48 years ago when Dr. King deliv-
ered his I Have a Dream Speech, if someone had told me that I would live to see the day that there would be a monument a memorial on the front porch of America, on the American mall to a man of peace, a man of love, a man of nonviolence, I would have said you don’t know what you’re talking about. I would have said “you’re crazy”. I’ve visited the monument two weeks ago. I was invited to go up on the scaffolding and rub his head. I cried. It is unreal. It is unbelievable and it is the best likeness of the man that I’ve seen. He is there in a beautiful setting between Jefferson and Lincoln that is so fitting. Dr. King was a leader of all people and he must be looked upon as one of the founding fathers of the new America. I think the memorial will emerge as one of the most visited monuments, and people will visit from all over the world.
MLK-26 august 2011 / Celebrating the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial - The Washington Informer Special Issue
Students Reflect, Share Thoughts on Dr. King By Barrington M. Salmon WI Staff Writer
lthough the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. represented the face of the Civil Rights movement, the effort to reverse generations of racism and discrimination was powered primarily by young people. Black and white children, those in high school and college students from all across the social spectrum chose different vehicles to express their desire for change. Whether it was with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Student Non-Violent Coordinat-
ing Committee (SNCC), the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), with churches, civic or social groups, they heeded the calls for change. Students, the foot soldiers, spread out across the South sitting in at lunch counters, marching in vast numbers against injustice and intolerance, boarding buses as Freedom Riders, registering people to vote, and questioning authority at every turn. They worked for economic and political self-sufficiency, demanded racial equality and sought freedom from oppression through civil resistance and non-violent protest. Despite being beaten, brutal-
ized and intimidated by the brutish forces of the segregationists, they refused to move back or step down. Diane Nash, Stokely Carmichael, John Lewis, Marion Barry, Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, Ella Baker and other lesser -known young people were the strategists and catalysts for the movement. Decades after the height of the Civil Rights movement, 43 years after King’s death and 26 years after efforts began to erect a memorial, the nation is poised to honor the Civil Rights icon. Hundreds of thousands of citizens are expected to gather on the National Mall in Northwest on August 28
to unveil the 30-foot statue. The Washington Informer spoke to students from the University of the District of Columbia who reflected on what the unveiling of the King Memorial means to them. “I think that the Martin Luther King memorial is an American memorial, and not just an African-American (one). It applies to whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians,” said Michael Lea, a 29-year-old law student from Orange County, Calif. “It’s a legacy for civil rights which is really an American inheritance for everybody. It’s all inclusive. Martin Luther King’s aim was to tie people together at a time when people
were legally separated. So, to bring so many different cultures and ethnicities into the construction of the memorial is really positive.” Morgane Dantier, a French national who is studying Information Technology, said the memorial reflects the multicultural nature of the United States. “It’s a great way to showcase all of the different faces that are in America today,” she said. “Martin Luther King would be very proud of it. Although he is not with us anymore, we should keep working towards his idea
See STUDENTS on Page 28
STUDENTS continued from Page 27 of togetherness. And not only people of different ethnicities, but people with different sexual orientations and lifestyles.” Although there was some consternation that the sculptor commissioned to create the King memorial is Chinese, and there was a public clamor in the black community to ensure that the majority of those who worked on the memorial were African American, the workforce ended up being multicultural and multi-ethnic in nature. For many observers, that’s appropriate, given King’s global appeal and his defense of all people who were victimized regardless of color. “The fact that it has been worked on by so many different people from different nationalities and cultures is what Dr. King would have wanted,” said Natalie Sidbury, a social work student from North Carolina. “If the monument was built and de-
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times are good economically,” he explained. “Even though times are hard, and may be harder for some than for others, it’s important for us to get past class and racial division and come together. The memorial can be a beacon of cohesion for Americans as a whole.” Sidbury said King’s work and his legacy are guideposts from which Americans can tailor their behavior. “If we are just reminded of where we came from, and how far we have come, we will see that we’re just going backwards,” she said. “All of the political fighting, bickering and quarreling can be worked through, if we just work together like Dr. King would have. If he was around, he would urge everyone to work together through the current financial situation with give and take.” (Washington Informer intern, Elton Hayes, contributed to this article.)
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ferent countries who have a lot to offer, but they aren’t given a chance because of restrictions placed on people from certain backgrounds.” For more than two years, the United States has been gripped by a dogged recession which has produced high unemployment, housing foreclosures and significant financial hardships for many Americans. The students were asked if, given today’s tough financial climate, they believe the memorial’s unveiling will provide a measure of positive relief. “It has a positive impact. Martin Luther King put people first. If we as a society can start to look at things the same way, it’s a positive step forward,” Rotich, 22, said. “The current financial situation has morale low and people are blaming it on other people. That’s human nature. But I think this event will uplift people.” Lea shared a similar sentiment. “When times are tough economically, and you have bitter strife between classes and races, it gets magnified more than when
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signed by just African Americans, I don’t think that it would truly honor what Dr. King wanted.” Sidbury, 24, said she liked the fact that the memorial was a multicultural endeavor. “It goes to show just have far we have come. Before Dr. King’s time, there would have never been a memorial of an AfricanAmerican person. And if there was, it probably wouldn’t have been done by people from different cultures. If Dr. King could see how much progress we have made, and how many things we have done on account of him, he would be very proud and excited that we have come so far,” she said. Accounting major Peter Rotich agrees. “I think it being multicultural is a good thing. It shows that the backgrounds of those who worked on it were not considered in a negative way,” said the native Washingtonian. “It wasn’t viewed as a problem, but as a positive. They made good use of people’s talents. I know people from dif-
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Hope Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. – Dr. King
Love At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love. – Dr. King
Justice It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important. – Dr. King
Peace It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. – Dr. King
Q U OTES
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ — dr. martin Luther King, Jr.
It is our responsibility and our privilege to answer the call with our news coverage and our commitment to the community. Through the NBC Universal Foundation, NBC4 is providing funds totaling $100,000 to support Florence Crittenton Services of Greater Washington, Latin American Youth Center, Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care, Mentoring to Manhood, and Strive DC during the coming year. www.washingtoninformer.com
Shantella Sherman and Shevry Lassiter WI Staff Writers
Mary Harris of Northwest Washington shares her memories of the 1963 march on Washington for jobs and freedom with a rug bearing Dr. King's likeness alongside John and Robert Kennedy. / Photo by Shevry Lassiter
ong before cities across the nation began acknowledging Dr. King with street corridor namings, the erection of buildings in his memory, or statues in his likeness, Black households used the walls of living rooms, dens and kitchens to erect memorials to him. Toward the end of the 1960s almost every African American household in America had an image of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. hanging on their wall, as a member of the royal leadership trilogy: King, President John F. Kennedy, and Jesus. Today, to those galleries a portrait of President Barack Obama has been incorporated or replaced Kennedy. “I considered Dr. King to a functionary of God, so he and Jesus were on my living room wall side by side,” said Northeast resident Mamie Fisher. “In trying times and with white people being aggressively hostile towards Blacks, you needed to err on the side of caution with your emotions.” Fisher, 76, said having King’s picture on her wall helped her understand that civil disobedience required passion, integrity,
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Northwest resident, Anne Graves, proudly displays her keepsake portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. / Photo by Shevry Lassiter
UNCOMMON continued from Page 30 and discipline. “Being able to demonstrate that you were civilized and disciplined was critical to movement because Black people were only being depicted in the news as trouble-makers, criminals, and ignorant. The written laws supported Black people being treated as humans, but law enforcement and the law of the land would not enforce that,” Fisher said. When complaints were made against law enforcement or local governments, Fisher said the national news needed to capture people who were clean, wellspoken, and dignified. “We forced the law to respect www.washingtoninformer.com
us by reasoning with our government and challenging them to view us as we really were. That was Dr. King’s strategy and it meant mentally assaulting white minds. I kept that Dr. King on my wall next to Jesus because I also felt that it would take God’s grace to protect him,” Fisher said. Colin Currie said he grew up with portraits of King plastered on the walls of almost every household he entered. His Jamaican-born grandparents held King in high regard and fostered a sense of respect for the iconic figure in their twelve children. “My grandparents had a poster-size portrait of Dr. King in their foyer so people walked in knowing that theirs was a home built around the principles of
non-violence, social and civic responsibility, and a just society,” Currie, 23, said. “They had respect for Dr. King and it resonated with my parents, who also had a series of velour wall hangings of King in their home.” Currie, now a graduate student at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, said he has also kept with the tradition. “My father had a section of his home office with all types of press clippings and magazine covers of Dr. King. When I left home to attend college, my dad took a picture of Dr. King receiving the Nobel Peace Prize down and gave it to me. He said, ‘A man handles the world with integrity even when the world handles him with violence.’ That
picture hangs on my wall now,” Currie said. Similarly, 75-year-old Mary Harris envisions her makeshift memorial to King a representation of peace and power. Sitting in her living room with images of Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and John F. Kennedy on a placement rug at her feet, Harris recalls walking with her daughter in the March on Washington. “I’m so glad we’ve come as far as we have and we still have a struggle and the struggle is on us. These pictures remind me of that. We have to take the blame for a lot of the things happening today because with push-button services taking over, many people no longer have jobs.”
The New Berg, South Carolina-native questions what the common man will do for a living and said the fight Dr. King and President Kennedy began so many years ago for better jobs and equitable incomes, is now at a crisis point. “We have come a long way and we have a long way to go. The younger generations have suffered because God and prayer were taken out of the struggle. Both were at the forefront of King’s movement. King was an extension of us and this memorial may convince others to put King’s message back into action and his face back up on their walls,” she said.
Martin Luther King Avenue,
Reverends Patrice and Eugene Shepherd are co-pastors who founded Living Word Church, located in the 4100 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue Southwest, in 1991. / Photo by Khalid Naji-Allah
By Denise Rolark Barnes WI Staff Writer
n 1967, when Dr. King was planning his historic March on Washington, St. Paul Davis purchased a building on Nichols Avenue in Southeast where he ran a barbershop, beauty salon and cleaners. He was the only African American business owner in Congress Heights, an area that was nearly 72 percent white and where many of the white residents were not thrilled to see Blacks encroaching into their neighborhoods west and south of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. Davis said the owners of a nearby Chinese restaurant that he and other Blacks in the area
occasionally patronized, told him that they didn’t want their business, “because we were running their white customers away,” he said. On the lower end of Nichols Avenue, in Anacostia, there was a burgeoning Black community that came into existence in the 1950s. Blacks in Anacostia had already established businesses and neighborhood organizations, “but whites didn’t want us up on this end. You had to fight when you came up here,” Davis said. “But we made it.” Davis bought three buildings that were attached to each other from the previous white owner and set up shop. He later purchased another storefront prop-
erty also on Nichols Avenue, which his sons now use for their own barbering business. As Davis stood looking out of the ground floor window of his recently renovated Expert Barber Shop, he said he has seen a lot of changes occur along the avenue over the years. Not only has the complexion of the community changed, he said. So has the address where his shop is located. It is no longer 3027 Nichols Avenue, but the name has been changed to Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, S.E. “I was excited to hear Martin Luther King’s name,” Davis said of the slain civil rights leader. “He did so much for Black people.” Not long after King was
killed by an assassin’s bullet in 1968 in Memphis, Tenn., Nichols Avenue changed to Martin Luther King Avenue in the District. Stanley Anderson, a member of the District’s appointed city council and a resident of Anacostia, is credited for getting the legislative authority to change the name, which took place in 1971. Cities across the nation were doing the same and efforts began to call for the establishment of a national holiday in honor of Dr. King. A native of Warrenton, NC, Davis said he was among the thousands of people on the National Mall in 1963 when Dr. King delivered his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech during the March on Washington. “I stood
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about 10-feet from the podium and a white man took me by the hand and said, ‘It’s a wonderful thing, brother.’” Davis laughed and said, “I could not believe it.” On August 27, Davis said he plans to return to the Mall to take part in the historic unveiling and dedication of the new King Memorial at 1968 Independence Avenue, across from the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. He is also proud that a part of the Southeast/Southwest Freeway will be renamed Martin Luther King Drive, if only symbolically, because to him Dr. King was a “powerful figure,” who had a major impact in his life. And,
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Where Hope Lives (Inset) St. Paul Davis, owner of Expert Barbershop in the 3000 block of Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, Southeast in Congress Heights, has been on the block for 44 years. He was on the National Mall when Dr. King delivered his famous I Have a Dream speech. / Photo by Khalid Naji-Allah
Olivia Evans, formerly of Gaithersburg, Md., moved to Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave. in Southeast because she wanted that to be her new address. She and her husband, Andy, live in a historic home built in 1910 on the street formerly named Nichols Avenue. / Photo by Khalid Naji-Allah
AVENUE continued from Page 32 as he looks out at the street that bears King’s name, he has hope for the neighborhood where “a lot of bad things have happened,” he said. It is a common theme among many observers who wonder why so many of the nearly 700 streets in the U.S. named for Dr. King are located in low-income neighborhoods. “Why,” asked Philip Pannell, president of the Congress Heights Civic Association, “is King Avenue so dirty and a haven for drunks and the homeless?’ Pannell, a Ward 8 community activist, is organizing residents www.washingtoninformer.com
to join an effort to clean-up the avenue and to find ways to utilize the park that sits at the corner of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X Avenues for community events, as a way of discouraging others who presently use the park to hang out, drink and engage in illicit activities. James Bunn, executive director of the Ward 8 Business Council, moved his business to King Avenue shortly after Dr. King was assassinated. “I was happy about the name change,” he said, “but I am still a little disappointed about all of the MLK avenues, boulevards, and what have you that are all in low income areas. I think it should be one of the most beautiful avenues in the city,” Bunn said.
As chairman of the Congress Heights Main Streets project, a business improvement program for those located between 4th Street and Martin Luther King Avenue to Milwaukee Place in Southeast, Bunn has helped to improve their storefronts, including his own Bunn Building, located at 3127 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. Bunn leases much of the 4500 sq. ft, two-story office building to several businesses including a barbershop that he once owned for more than 40 years. “I want to make sure that the avenue looks appropriate. Just putting up a sign saying Martin Luther King Avenue, that doesn’t cut it; the city has got to do better. Just look at the
streets, go to Georgetown and downtown [where] they have nice brick fronts. That’s what we ought to have. “I raise a lot of sand but it is not acceptable and it’s those kind of things that upset me,” Bunn said. “But I know when Homeland Security comes, and you’ll see 80 percent who will come with it will be white people, then that’s when things will change. And, it shouldn’t have to be that way...it just shouldn’t have to be that way,” Bunn said. When Olivia Evans bought her house in the 3300 block of King Avenue in 1988, she recalled that it was at the height of the crack epidemic. Her family thought she was crazy, but the time to buy a home was perfect
for her as a single mother with a young son. “I was living in Gaithersburg,” Evans said, “and one day my son, who was looking at television said something about ‘those people.’ I looked and realized that ‘those people’ were Black people, and I decided then that I needed to move into a black neighborhood.” Evans, a native of Stafford, Va., said that when she decided to move into the District, she searched for a house on Martin Luther King Avenue, specifically because of its name. The house she purchased was built in 1910 and is among the most historic homes on the avenue. She was
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The Big Chair, which stands at 19-1/2 feet, is a renowned landmark on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, where it has stood since 1959. The chair is a Duncan Phyfe model chair built by the Bassett Furniture Company to help attract customers to the Curtis Brothers Furniture store that use to be located in the 2100 block of Nichols Avenue
Louise Wright, Sue Chung, Fred Chung, and Oh Duck Kwon stand in front of the Global Cleaners on Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave in Southeast. “I was taught about Martin Luther King, Jr. in school back in Korea and he was a good man. He fought for the freedom of all”, Sue Chung stated. / Photo by Khalid Naji-Allah
Ward 8 Main Streets President James Bunn points to a historic photograph that includes the building he now owns on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Southeast. Bunn has operated several businesses from his prime location for more than 40 years. / Photo by Khalid Naji-Allah
AVENUE continued from Page 35 also glad to know that she would be enrolling her son into Martin Luther King Elementary School just four blocks away. “Every day when I write my address, I get to write the man’s [King’s] whole name. I write it all the way out,” Evans said. “I don’t shorten it.” Evans later married, and her husband, Andy, is a nationally acclaimed comedian and stress relief counselor. He grew up in Alexandria, Va. and recalls seeing Dr. King at a rally organized by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Council (SNCC) in at
a church located in Green Valley just months after he returned from Viet Nam. King came to talk to the students, many from Howard University, who were planning to join the Poor People’s March that proceeded after King was assassinated in 1968. “The word got out that Dr. King was in the church and the noise went from a roar to a whisper,” Evans said. He asked us to keep in mind that this was going to be a non-violent march and asked those who were going to participate to remember that, Evans said. “When I came out of the military, I felt lost. Then I was told that there were some things that
I couldn’t do. I realized how important non-violence was to him. I was coming from a war where there was so much violence and killing, yet we didn’t win the war, and we solved nothing. It [nonviolence] made sense. It was such a vivid memory,” Evans said. That’s what turned Evans to politics. “I went on two years later to become the campaign chairperson for the first black person to serve on the Alexandria city council,” and later Evans, himself, ran unsuccessfully for sheriff of Alexandria. “The memorial, the street, all says that a man who was so vilified for trying to be anti-
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American became so much of an American for believing that the system could work for all of us. The memorial also speaks to his beliefs of inclusion and says that we have a right to be in this country,” Evans said. “To me to be on Martin Luther King Avenue and to be a veteran solidifies my right to be an American,” Evans said. Davis said that he also feels good about being on Martin Luther King Avenue and about the changes he sees there “because we were kind of forgotten for a moment. “I will definitely be there when they unveil the memorial.” www.washingtoninformer.com
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
Salutes the legacy and Work of
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Congressional Summer Interns with members of the 112th United States Congress
t is hard for many to imagine life in the 1950’s and 60’s as compared to the America of 2011. Segregated restrooms, theaters, and restaurants, cou-
pled with the physical presence of racism, and sexism, religious persecution and false and painful accusations of communism made this country reflective
more of Days of Our Lives than Happy Days. The magnitude of how the Civil Rights movement changed America is truly remarkable. Dr. King embodies the
work of many who sacrificed to change and challenge America to reflect the practices in the words of the founding fathers. It is through Dr. King’s lega-
cy that bore the Congressional Black Caucus. Commemorating its 40 years of existence and being dubbed “the conscience of Congress,” CBC has carried Dr. King’s bequest through their work in ending apartheid, in extending the Voting Rights Act, in being at the forefront for environmental policies and of course, one of their longest battles - to have a federal holiday to recognize the great work and spirit of Dr. King. Today at 43 members, including one former member who is now the president of the United States, the CBC is highly respected and effective in making America for all of its citizens. Looking toward the future, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation is continuing Dr. King’s dream by devoting itself to developing leaders, informing policy and educating the public. The Foundation’s internship and fellowship programs are legendary, changing the landscape on Capitol Hill, in boardrooms and in nonprofit and grass root organizations. Committed to developing tomorrow’s leaders, CBCF is marching under the banner iLead|iServe and challenging Americans to join in the work to lead and serve in their homes, their communities and the nation. A statue of Dr. King’s essence is now frozen in time on America’s national mall as a monument to history, yet Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his work are in no way petrified. Dr. King’s legacy is fluid and lives on today through the work of all of our great American institutions. The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation salutes the legacy and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Congressional Black Caucus Foundation www.cbcfinc.org Contact: Muriel Cooper 202-263-2829 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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