Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial – Washington DC

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial – Washington DC

Located on the National Mall is the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial.  It was authorized by congress in 1996 for construction but the funds needed to be raised first.  The “Build the Dream” was tasked with raising $120 million which was required for the project.  The necessary funds were raised and the memorial opened to the public in August of 2011.

Located adjacent to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, this is the first major memorial along the National Mall to be dedicated to an African-American, and to a non-president.

The memorial was built to convey the four fundamental and recurring themes throughout Dr. King’s message: justice, democracy, hope and love.    The King Memorial is intended to be personally transformative for visitors, building a sense of commitment to the promise of positive change and active citizenship. Drawing from Dr. King’s own rich metaphorical language, the themes of “the Man, the Movement and the Message” are intertwined into a larger experience of place.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is located on the northwest corner of the Tidal Basin at the intersection of West Basin Drive SW and Independence Avenue SW, Washington DC. Entrances to the Memorial site are located at Independence Avenue, SW, west of West Basin Drive; Independence Avenue, SW, at Daniel French Drive; Ohio Drive, SW, south of the Ericsson Statue; and Ohio Drive, SW, at West Basin Drive. Parking is extremely limited in the area, so the best way to get to the Memorial is by public transportation. The closest metro stations are Smithsonian and Foggy Bottom. (approximately a one-mile walk).

The centerpiece of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is the “Stone of Hope”, a 30-foot statue of Dr. King, gazing into the horizon and concentrating on the future and hope for humanity. The sculpture was carved from 159 granite blocks that were assembled to appear as one singular piece. There is also a 450-foot inscription wall, made from granite panels, that is inscribed with 14 excerpts of King’s sermons and public addresses to serve as living testaments of his vision of America. Landscape elements of the Memorial include American Elm trees, Yoshino Cherry Trees, Liriope plants, English yew, jasmine and sumac.