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Thread: Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial on the Mall / Washington D.C.

  1. #1
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Default Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial on the Mall / Washington D.C.

    Groundbreaking set for King memorial

    First National Mall tribute to an African American begins Nov. 13

    Kevin Wolf / AP
    A model of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is seen
    on Nov. 2 in Washington. On Nov. 13, celebrities, corporate leaders
    and ordinary Americans will help turn the first shovels of dirt
    for the memorial.

    View related photos
    The Associated Press

    WASHINGTON - On a hot August afternoon in 1963, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech to a mostly black audience from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

    On Nov. 13, a half-mile from Lincoln’s iconic statue, a diverse group of celebrities, corporate leaders and ordinary Americans will help turn the first shovels of dirt for a memorial honoring the civil rights leader who was slain 38 years ago. It will be the first monument to an African American on the National Mall.

    “He’s an American hero, and beyond that he’s a hero for all sorts of people,” said poet and novelist Maya Angelou, who is scheduled to join Oprah Winfrey and others who have been working for more than a decade to help build the monument.

    Angelou, 80, said the groundbreaking is even more special because it comes almost a year after the death of King’s widow. “She never was a person to say ’Why didn’t it happen sooner?’ That would not be Coretta Scott King,” Angelou said of her friend, who died in January at 78.

    Following the deaths of Coretta Scott King and civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, who died in October 2005, efforts to raise the necessary $100 million to build and maintain the four-acre memorial accelerated.

    Pace of donations picks up

    Donations, mostly from major corporations, had totaled less than $40 million through August 2005. But as of Nov. 1, donations topped $65.5 million.

    Harry Johnson, president of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, said he hopes to have the site completed by the spring of 2008.

    The location is flanked by the Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Franklin D. Roosevelt memorials near the eastern edge of the Potomac River Tidal Basin. From a distance, visitors can see the stairs where King delivered his most famous speech during the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963.

    The entrance to the memorial will include a central sculpture called “The Mountain of Despair.” Its towering split rocks signify the divided America that inspired the nonviolent efforts of King and others to overcome racial and social barriers.

    “This gateway was designed to lead visitors to the heart and soul of this living memorial,” said Ed Jackson, Jr., the project’s executive architect.

    Private, corporate donors

    Among those invited to attend the ceremonial groundbreaking are the Revs. Andrew Young and Jesse Jackson — who were with King on the trip to Memphis that preceded his April 4, 1968, assassination — and former President Bill Clinton, who signed a resolution approved by Congress authorizing the memorial in 1996.

    Backers of the project say corporate support was critical. General Motors provided $10 million, and clothing manufacturer Tommy Hilfiger contributed $5 million.

    “You could compare it to the assassination of JFK,” Hilfiger said, remembering how King’s assassination touched his Irish-Catholic family. “It was so significant in our lives as teens and young people. It was earth-shattering.”

    Hilfiger is working with hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons to help raise another $35 million for the project over the next six months.

    Major galas and concerts are planned in New York, Houston and other cities, including a National Dream Dinner at Washington’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 13.

    © 2006 The Associated Press.
    © 2006

  2. #2
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    About the Memorial


    ROMA Design Group is an interdisciplinary firm of architects, landscape architects and planners which is based in San Francisco and does work throughout the United States and abroad. Over the past twenty years, ROMA has established a reputation for design excellence and comitment to the improvement of the urban environment. The firm focuses on the transformation of the post-industrial city, the creation of livable communities and the design of public places. We believe that our projects have made a significant contribution to the attractiveness, character and livability of cities, towns and regions.

    Roma Design Group
    1527 Stockton Street
    San Francisco, U.S.A.
    CA 94133

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    The location is flanked by the Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Franklin D. Roosevelt memorials near the eastern edge of the Potomac River Tidal Basin. From a distance, visitors can see the stairs where King delivered his most famous speech during the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963.

    The entrance to the memorial will include a central sculpture called “The Mountain of Despair.” Its towering split rocks signify the divided America that inspired the nonviolent efforts of King and others to overcome racial and social barriers.
    I am surprised that this thread has had no posts before this. I shall not speculate as to why, but I find it puzzling indeed for a man who had such a great impact on this country and many other places in the world.

    That location, which visually lines up Jefferson to King to Lincoln is being called the "Line of Leaders" but that title seems a bit forced at this stage, I am sure something better will replace it.

    The split rocks are dramatically at odds with what King believed, but I understand how it speaks to a great divide that continues to exist in America, from this and several other directions.

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    I don't know if the website just doesn't do the memorial justice, but it was a disappointment for me. Whatever happened to building memorials on a grand scale? This looks more like a park to me with some benches for reflection. Too bad.

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by Jasonik View Post
    Thanks for that 2004 article. Those matyr wells seem like a curious symbol, I need to find out more about them.

  8. #8
    Banned Member
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    Not a very moving or evocative memorial.

  9. #9


    Before I leave NY, I'll be taking one of my typical weekends to go elsewhere - and I do plan on looking at this site very soon.

    It may be that MLK not being a President, and in a tight site next to Lincoln, may have precluded him from ever getting any grand monument. I suppose that being on the Washington Mall, with some type of bust and landscape features - instead of on a plaque at the reflecting pool where he gave his famous speech, or off in some neighborhood park - is at least some form of national recognition, worth applauding.

    That Mall is getting quite crowded with all types of monuments and people. But sometimes the most modest things there can be quite moving. That subterranean Vietnam memorial, for instance, is very moving yet spartan/modest by Washington standards. I am hoping that this memorial will at least be moving when built, and that may be enough for me.

  10. #10


    In view of the height of this statue, the monument will be far more substantial than first suspected.

    A King Statue 'Made in China'?
    U.S. Critics Blast Selection; Artist Is Bewildered at Outrage

    By Ariana Eunjung Cha
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Wednesday, August 15, 2007; Page C01

    CHANGSHA, China -- Inside a cavernous studio in this steamy inland city, Lei Yixin is molding clay into the shape of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Lei scrutinizes every inch of the models ... For China's artists, the selection of Lei as the lead sculptor for the project, to be unveiled in 2009 on the Mall, is a triumphant moment.

    Lei Yixin with his clay model of the
    Martin Luther King Jr. statue to be unveiled
    at the Mall in 2009.
    Photo Credit: Courtesy Lei Yixin

    Not everyone feels this way.

    Atlanta resident Lea Winfrey Young says the "outsourcing" by U.S. companies and organizations to China has gone too far this time. She and her husband, Gilbert Young, a painter, are leading a group of critics who argue that an African American -- or any American -- should have been picked for such an important project.


    A former adviser for the memorial has accused the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation Inc. of promoting Lei to head artist in the hopes of getting a $25 million donation from the Chinese government to make up for a shortfall in funding. In a 13-page critique, Ed Dwight, a sculptor who has created seven King memorials, called Lei's proposed statue a "shrinking, shriveled inadequate personage."


    Harry E. Johnson Sr., president of the foundation, denies ever having conversations with Chinese officials or companies to ask for money. He said scouts for the foundation spotted Lei's work at a sculpting workshop in St. Paul, Minn., and approached him. The sole criterion for choosing him, Johnson said, was artistic ability -- Lei's skill at capturing personalities in sculptures, his expertise in hewing granite and his extensive experience with large public monuments... Johnson said. "We don't want to take the stand to say African Americans can only work on this project. We appreciate the diversity we have."

    Johnson said yesterday that the foundation had raised $82 million of the $100 million needed to complete and maintain the project. The most recent donation, valued at $1.5 million, came from media conglomerate Viacom Inc., which owns BET and MTV.


    Johnson emphasizes that Lei was selected by a design team that included mostly African Americans, and that the artist is collaborating closely with Jon Onye Lockard, a painter and a University of Michigan lecturer, and Louisville-based sculptor Ed Hamilton, both of whom are African American.


    In Lei's home town of Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, talk of the controversy in the United States draws not anger but bewilderment.

    Wasn't it King's dream to end all racism? Lei asked.


    After winning top prizes in national competitions three years in a row, Lei was given a rare honor -- recognition as a master sculptor, which came with a lifetime stipend from the Chinese government.


    Born to a family of scholars, Lei was one of millions of "educated youth" sent to the countryside during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, a national campaign by the Communist Party to rid the country of all things "bourgeois." As a way to develop a skill other than farming during the seven years he spent toiling in the fields, Lei started drawing... When Lei applied to college, he submitted the diary as his portfolio. In 1978, he became part of the first class after the Cultural Revolution to be able to go to art school. In 1982, when Lei graduated, there were no more than 100 art majors in the country, according to Sun Quan, vice president of the Hunan Sculpture Institute. In recent years the number has grown as high as 260,000.

    Today, the art world in China is booming. Galleries from Shanghai to London and New York sell the work of contemporary Chinese artists for thousands of dollars.

    But more important than material rewards, sculptors, painters and others say, is the artistic license that the government gives them. "Foreigners think we artists in China have no freedom, that we are told what to create. That's not true," said Zhu, chairman of the Hunan Association of Artists.


    The statue Lei is creating -- which at 28 feet will be a full nine feet taller than the statue in the Jefferson Memorial -- will be the centerpiece of the tribute to King. The memorial will span four acres near the Tidal Basin between the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials, facing Jefferson. Visitors will first walk through a grove of spruce and magnolia trees by a waterfall and read a selection of the civil rights leader's famous words carved on walls. At the end of their walk, they will see King's likeness emerging from a chunk of granite.

    Lei has hired 10 other Chinese sculptors, many of them local university professors, to help him create the giant monument. But it is Lei who will carve critical features such as King's face and hands... For months, Lei buried himself in King's readings and speeches. At one point, every wall in his studio was covered with pictures of King. In the end, Lei's interpretation was this: Martin Luther King was a great man but also an ordinary man. "He is short and doesn't stand out in a crowd," he said. "But when his voice comes out, he's a leader. His charisma has attracted millions of Americans to follow his cause."

    So in his first clay model, Lei showed King standing, arms folded across his chest, his left hand grasping a pen. The goal, Lei said, is "when you see the statue of Martin Luther King, you might think of the injustices around the world, which call for our collaborative efforts . . . to bring to justice the things that King himself was unable to finish."

    Staff researcher Wu Meng and wire services contributed to this report.

    © 2007 The Washington Post Company

    For the complete article, please press link below:

  11. #11


    Most artists commisioned to do large public work do crumby jobs at relating facial features to the medium they are using. If this Lei character really is specialy gifted in those areas I would consider that a great decision, Chinese or not. Not to sound corny but how many public memorials and statues have you seen where their is no emotion evoked by the piece, simply a bronze accretion. I'm excited to see what the final design looks like.

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    I did get a chance after leaving New York to drop down there and see the site firsthand: it looks very tight, but it is bigger than the Korean War Memorial, and it will have impressive vistas if they handle it properly.

  13. #13

    Default King's Birthday Tomorrow but Celebrated Next Week

    M. L. King was born on 15 January, 1929, in Atlanta, but the federal holiday created to celebrate this day is scheduled every third Monday in January. That means for 2008 it is the 21st not the 15th that is actually celebrated. And that is, of course, next week.

    In advance of this federal holiday, I am posting an article on fundraising for the King Memorial in DC sponsored by Delta Air Lines. In another kind of technicality, this is not a corporate donation from this troubled airline, but rather a means by which Delta's customers and employees can contribute to the Memorial through that corporation's facilities.


    The Dream Lives On: Delta's Force for Global Good Leads Fundraising Campaign for Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial

    Delta Air Lines partners with employees and customers worldwide to raise contributions for the memorial honoring Dr. King's legacy

    January 14, 2008: 09:33 AM EST

    ATLANTA, Jan. 14, 2008 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL), the hometown airline of the birthplace of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., kicked off the New Year with a global fundraising campaign to help make the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C. a reality.

    On Jan.7, Delta's Vice President of Marketing,
    Tim Mapes and his wife, Mary (left) hosted
    (L-R) Ambassador Andrew Young, Atlanta Mayor
    Shirley Franklin, Harry Johnson, Sr., Delta's
    Scarlet Pressley-Brown and others at their home
    to support the kick off of Delta's fund-raising
    efforts for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National
    Memorial in Washington, D.C.

    "A Nobel Peace Prize winner and one of the greatest leaders in American history, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. understood the importance of making peaceful change and joining people of all races and cultures in pursuit of a common good," said Richard Anderson, Delta's chief executive officer. "We ask our customers to join the people of Delta in donating to the campaign in support of the King Memorial in Washington, D.C. By doing so, we can all make a difference."

    The $100 million monument is being built on a four-acre site near the Lincoln Memorial, where Dr. King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963. To date, more than $87 million has been raised for the memorial which is scheduled to open in 2009 and marks the first monument to an African American on the National Mall.

    "There is no question that Martin Luther King was a world citizen -- tourism, travel, the global dimensions of peace and justice were always very much a part of everything he said and did," said Ambassador Andrew Young. "As a son of Atlanta, he was a son of Delta."

    Delta is supporting the fundraising effort in a variety of ways that allow both customers and employees to contribute to the important Memorial, honoring Dr. King's legacy. Donations can be made online now through Delta's Force for Global Good at where contributions will be received and tracked by the official memorial fund site. The MLK Jr. National Memorial Account, account number 0991669648 at the Delta Community Credit Union, was also established to receive contributions. In addition, all of Delta's domestic Crown Room Clubs(r) will accept donations from Jan. 21 through Feb. 28.

    "Who better than Delta to do what it can to increase awareness that the memorial is an ongoing effort and, in the process, spread the message that Dr. King put forth?" said Tim Mapes, Delta's vice president of Marketing and president of The Delta Foundation. "Dr. King introduced the world to the value of diversity and inclusion -- universal principles we acknowledge and value in our customers, our employees and the communities we serve across the globe. Delta and its more than 48,000 employees worldwide are honored to support the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial project."

    The January cover of Delta's Sky magazine features an illustration of Dr. King, along with a Q&A inside with Ambassador Young who was a top aide to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the civil rights movement and serves on the Board of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change. In addition, throughout the month of February, Delta will play a video about the memorial project on the overhead on-flight entertainment systems available on board many Delta flights worldwide.

    Delta's employees, customers, and community partners form Delta's Force for Global Good, an organization for positive local and global change, dedicated to improving standards of living and the environment where Delta employees and customers live and work.

    CONTACT: Delta Air Lines
    Corporate Communications

    © 2007 PrimeNewswire, Inc.
    © 2008 Cable News Network. A Time Warner Company


    Last edited by Zephyr; January 21st, 2008 at 06:58 AM.

  14. #14


    Mountain of Despair?
    Stone of Sadness?

    Aren't these things just a tad too..I don't know...Disneyland?

    I happen to think that the plain-and-simple theme of all the memorials in DC is what makes them great and I think something like a small rotunda or maybe even something like the FDR memorial would be far more fitting.

    Actually I think if they could recreate the steps right there in front of the water they could put his statue on them and immortalize it in the same setting that he was immortalized.

    Just my thoughts.

  15. #15


    Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynRider View Post
    Not a very moving or evocative memorial.
    Yeah, it's hack work.

    ROMA's California work is equally insipid.

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