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I have a dream…memorial
by Amin George Forji
2006-11-22 10:01:11
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Political and civil rights activists across America gathered on November 13th in Washington to pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who, in his own right, came unceremoniously to the political landscape, breaking the ground for what would subsequently be his memorial.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.It is the first monument to an African-American on the National Mall in Washington. The National Mall is reserved for the most-celebrated American icons, such as Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. National leaders who spoke at the launch of the memorial construction work said, "Luther is one such icon, and must be respected as such.

"We give Martin Luther King, Jr. his rightful place among the many Americans honored on the National Mall," President Bush said to the applause of the enthusiastic crowd that had turned out. He went on to sat, "The memorial was going to unite the men who declared the promise of America and defended the promise of America with the man who redeemed the promise of America. Dr. King showed us that a life of conscience and purpose can lift up many souls…and on this ground, a monument will rise that preserves his legacy for the ages."

The occasion was witnessed by over 5,000 people, including personalities such as former President Bill Clinton, TV show host Oprah Winfrey, civil rights activist Jessie Jackson and Democratic Senator, Barack Obama, among others.

The legislation authorizing the memorial was signed by former President Clinton in 1996. The monument will be a four-acre site along the Tidal Basin, exactly near the steps leading to the Lincoln Memorial, where King gave his electrifying "I Have a Dream" speech. It thus lays just opposite the monuments of Thomas Jefferson, noted for the famous Declaration of Independence, and Abraham Lincoln, who liberated slaves and evaded secession of the South despite the odds.

The design of the memorial is a physical reflection of one of the most famous and powerful passages in the "I have a dream" speech. In short, the memorial itself is a 'dream'.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.In fact, from the day Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I have a dream" speech on August 28, 1963, America has never been the same. The speech was delivered to a mostly black audience from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington at the peak of what has been termed 'the most successful mass movements against racial segregation in history'. It was not only critical in fighting against racism and injustice in the USA, but is generally considered one of the best speeches ever. It not only gave the Dr. King iconic status, but also became the first real revelation to the injustices that had been legitimized in American culture.

In his speech, he reminded America that she had seriously flawed on the democratic promises in her own constitution and declaration of independence, as far as the black race was concerned. But he was quick to add that despite the injustices of the time, he had a clear vision or dream that justice was at hand-the unspeakable flaws which made America a different thing in theory and in practice. It showed a society that was typically hostile and injustices that were earth shattering.

Luther's emotional speech began, "Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free."

It continued, "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

A reverend pastor by profession, turned civil rights activist, Luther began to lead non-violent protests across all of America from December 1955 and, after the arrest of Rosa Parks, fought for basic civil rights for blacks, such as the right to vote, labour rights and desegregation. Between 1964 and 1965, most of these rights were successfully incorporated into US law.

His non-violent approach equally earned him the Noble Peace Prize, and, ever since, he has become the inspiration to many the world-over, including President Bush. Early this year on January 16th, while commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day, he said, "He is one of the greatest Americans who ever lived."

Most African-Americans typically link their present day successes and achievements to King. Oprah Winfrey did just same during yesterday’s ceremony, "I am who I am because of the struggles of Dr. King, because of his leadership, because of his belief in hope for this country. My life is what it is because of his work."

I wish I had the dream King had. In the absence of one, my greatest wish is that his dream spreads like lightening to all corners of the world under bondage, especially Darfur.

Construction work is due to be completed in the spring of 2008.

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Sand2006-11-23 05:43:06
Although I admire King and his works I wonder what actual good another piece of useless architecture will do for his ideas. Better the money spent should be applied to actually defeating the butchers in Darfur. Non-violence works when the oppressors have at least a few molecules of decency in their makeup. The thugs in Darfur require a bit of strafing from the air to demonstrate that massacre is unprofitable.

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