DCentric » Martin Luther King Memorial http://dcentric.wamu.org Race, Class, The District. Wed, 16 May 2012 20:20:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Copyright © WAMU Poll: Should MLK Memorial Quote Be Changed? http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/02/poll-should-mlk-memorial-quote-be-changed/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/02/poll-should-mlk-memorial-quote-be-changed/#comments Mon, 13 Feb 2012 18:35:39 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=14057 Continue reading ]]>

Pruitt Allen / Flickr

The controversy over the quote on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial isn’t over. National Park Service plans to change the quote on the side of King’s statue is drawing criticism from the monument’s executive architect and others.

The quote on King’s statue currently reads, “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.” It’s a paraphrased version of this longer quote, from the end of his “Drum Major” speech:

If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.

Some, including poet Maya Angelou, have criticized the paraphrased version, saying it makes King sound arrogant. The monument’s architect says the existing stone can’t be matched and changing the quote “would essentially deface the monument,” reports WAMU 88.5′s Elliott Francis.

Do you think the paraphrased version should be changed, or should the NPS leave the memorial alone? Vote below:

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DCentric Picks: MLK Day, ‘Remaking America’ and Free Art http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/dcentric-picks-mlk-day-remaking-america-and-free-art/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/dcentric-picks-mlk-day-remaking-america-and-free-art/#comments Thu, 12 Jan 2012 19:01:56 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=13420 Continue reading ]]>

Alan / Flickr

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is on Monday.

History: Monday marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day and this year will be the first time that King’s memorial on the National Mall will be open to the public. A number of events and activities, which can be reviewed here, are being held on the memorial’s grounds starting Friday and running through Wednesday.

Talk: It’s too late to reserve seats to attend Thursday’s “Remaking America,” a conversation hosted by Tavis Smiley at George Washington University and being broadcast live on C-SPAN. But if you have to miss it, you can check out the official after-event with Smiley and Cornel West at Busboys and Poets. It starts at 10 p.m. at the 14th and V streets NW location.

Art: We’ve recommended checking out the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Design’s “30 Americans” exhibit before, which displays heralded art by black American artists. The gallery normally charges $10 for entry, but is offering free admission from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday. The Corcoran is located at 500 17th St. NW.

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MLK Memorial: A Complex D.C. Legacy http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/10/mlk-memorial-a-complex-d-c-legacy/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/10/mlk-memorial-a-complex-d-c-legacy/#comments Mon, 17 Oct 2011 21:26:09 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=11473 Continue reading ]]>

PBS NewsHour / Flickr

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, dedicated on Sunday as a tribute and reminder that King’s vision of equality isn’t yet fully realized, evokes an additional memory for those living in D.C. The statue is a reminder of the pain and frustration felt after King’s assassination, which gave birth to the 1968 riots that forever changed D.C.’s landscape, setting the stage for the gentrification the city is undergoing today.

One of Sunday’s speakers, president of the Children’s Defense Fund Marian Wright Edelman, shared this moving recollection from that moment in time:

The day after Dr. King was shot, I went into riot-torn Washington, D.C. neighborhoods and schools, urging children not to loot, get arrested and ruin their futures. A 12-year-old black boy looked at me straight in the eye and said, “Lady, what future? I ain’t got no future. I ain’t got nothing to lose.”

When news broke of King’s death, many young people in particular took to the streets. Although it was peaceful at first, the gatherings across the city turned violent, with people looting, burning down more than 1,000 buildings and destroying many stores.

After the riots, many whites and well-to-do residents left for the suburbs. Storefronts remained empty for decades and the city’s economy was devastated. The crack epidemic only made matters worse, and crime rates soared. But now that D.C. is experiencing an economic resurgence from the riots’ effects, the city is also losing many of its black and poor residents, some of whom cannot afford a more expensive city. There are more opportunities for many of D.C.’s young people than there were in 1968, but many black youth are still not in school or working.

Edelman, who spoke of the despair of that 12-year-old black boy in 1968 D.C., also called upon King’s legacy to inspire continued action:

… It is time for the United States and for the black community and all of us to prove that boy’s truth wrong, in our militarily powerful, materially rich but spiritually poor nation, and to honor the sacrifice of this great prophet of God who died to help redeem the soul of America. Dr. King is not coming back. We’re it. He told us what to do. Let’s honor him by doing it.

Despite all of D.C.’s racial and class disparities, there are dedicated people working to make positive changes, whether it be parents working to improve D.C.’s failing schools or activists creating more employment opportunities for D.C. youth. There may be debates over the tactics, but these groups are diverse. Just like the crowds who visit the King memorial, reflecting on his legacy.

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DCentric Picks: MLK Memorial Dedication, ‘Dream City’ Discussion http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/10/dcentric-picks-mlk-memorial-dedication-dream-city-discussion/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/10/dcentric-picks-mlk-memorial-dedication-dream-city-discussion/#comments Thu, 13 Oct 2011 16:00:28 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=11387 Continue reading ]]>

Mladen Antonov / AFP/Getty Images

What: The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial dedication ceremony.

Where: West Potomac Park.

When: 9 a.m., Sunday.

Cost: Free.

Why you should go: The dedication of the memorial, the first on the National Mall to honor an African American, was initially scheduled for Aug. 28. But it was canceled due to Hurricane Irene. Although the memorial has been open to the public for more than a month now, the ceremony will feature remarks by members of King’s family and President Barack Obama.

Other events to consider: Greater Greater Washington is hosting a discussion between the authors of “Dream City: Race, Power, and the Decline of Washington, D.C.” In the 1990s, Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood wrote about the rise and fall of former Mayor Marion Barry in the context of D.C.’s political and racial struggles. D.C. is now going through a new round of changes. Washington Post reporter Mike DeBonis will moderate the talk, which takes place at 7 p.m., Monday, at the Shaw Library. (Disclosure: Sherwood is a resident analyst on WAMU 88.5′s Kojo Nnamdi show).

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial’s Sculptor is Chinese: Does It Matter? http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/martin-luther-king-jr-memorials-sculptor-is-chinese-does-it-matter/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/martin-luther-king-jr-memorials-sculptor-is-chinese-does-it-matter/#comments Fri, 26 Aug 2011 14:00:06 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=9963 Continue reading ]]>

Mandel Ngan / Getty Images

The "Stone of Hope" sculpture of Martin Luther King by Chinese artist Lei Yixin is the first on the National Mall to honor a person of color.

D.C. is abuzz with activity with Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial dedication events, but there’s still plenty of debate over the memorial’s design and the nationality of the sculptor.

Some criticize that King’s face is too stern or militant. Others take issue with the selection of Lei Yixin of China, rather than an African American, as the sculptor. The project’s leaders have said there were no qualified black sculptors who could work with stones of this size or type. The Washington Post‘s Courtland Milloy writes, “Who gets the job? A Chinese national with an apparent preference for the heroic and authoritarian.” He continues:

Surely, having a black sculptor of a black civil rights icon — working on ground once toiled by black slaves, on the National Mall, designed and surveyed with the help of a black mathematician and astronomer Benjamin Banneker — would have added to the King memorial’s symbolic power.

So, yes, it stings when, centuries later, creators of the King memorial say they couldn’t find a qualified black sculptor.

We asked DCentric readers on Facebook and Twitter to post their thoughts and comments on the memorial’s design and sculptor. A few responded on Twitter by recalling King’s message of unity among races:

On our Facebook page, commenter Besufekad Tadesse writes the controversy around Lei designing the King memorial mirrors the initial criticism over the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, designed by Maya Lin of Chinese descent.

The key is in whether or not the artist took proper care and respect of both the person being memorialized and the public that would enjoy the monument. As far as his stern face, the struggle to provide access to jobs and attain freedom amidst state-sponsored segregation and oppression was nothing short of a serious issue, and creating a strong look on Dr. King’s face would remind us all to be wise enough not to forget that.

But Ruth Peterson counters the controversy over the King sculptor differs from the one surrounding the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial since Lin is an American citizen, whereas Lei is a Chinese national. “He has done several sculptures of Chairman Ma,” Peterson writes, “So many people question why he was given the task to do King’s image when he had done so many images of a former Communist leader.” She continues:

As to the “stern” look on his face, I don’t see it. I think that maybe some people feel that unless a black man is smiling with his big pearly white teeth showing that he is somehow threatening to other people. To me, his figure says I’m a thoughtful, serious man working on serious problems for my people and my country.

Have you visited the memorial yet? What’s your take on King’s expression or the choice of Lei as the sculptor? Post your comments below.

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DCentric Picks: King Memorial Dedication Week Events http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/dcentric-picks-king-memorial-dedication-week-events/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/dcentric-picks-king-memorial-dedication-week-events/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2011 16:14:38 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=9951 Continue reading ]]>

Elvert Barnes / Flickr

The public began visiting the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on Monday.

What: A number of events are being held through Sunday in honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial dedication. The main dedication ceremony takes place at 11 a.m., Sunday has been postponed to a later date in September or October.

When: Thursday through Sunday.

Cost: Most of the musical events are free, but check the official memorial website to see ticket price information for specific events.

Why you should go: The King memorial is the first on the National Mall honoring an African American, and this week’s events pay tribute to the historic occasion.

“Partners in the Dream,” a public expo with information booths and musical performances, is being held at the Washington Convention Center through Sunday.  Also, the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center will host an hour-long musical tribute by gospel performers Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes, R&B singer Raheem DeVaughn and jazz harmonicist Frédéric Yonnet. The free show takes place at 6 p.m., Friday.

UPDATE: Event organizers have canceled Sunday’s event due to the coming Hurricane Irene. The memorial will be open until noon, Saturday, for public view.

Concerts will also be held on the National Mall before and after Sunday’s dedication, where President Barack Obama will speak. As of now, Sunday’s events will proceed rain or shine, but Hurricane Irene could force organizers to push the schedule back.

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Public Gets Sneak Peek of King Memorial http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/public-gets-sneak-peak-of-king-memorial/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/public-gets-sneak-peak-of-king-memorial/#comments Tue, 16 Aug 2011 18:00:13 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=9717 Continue reading ]]>

Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images

A view of the construction site for the new Martin Luther King Memorial on the National Mall.

The dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall is less than two weeks away, but locals can get a preview of the monument ahead of the Aug. 28 dedication.

DCist reports that “D.C. Residents’ Day,” originally only for District residents, is now open for all. Anyone who shows up between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., Aug. 23 can see the memorial, regardless of their residency.

You can also mark the historic occasion by purchasing a commemorative Metro fare card. The memorial is the first on the Mall to honor an African American.


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