Martin Luther King Memorial, Washington DC, A monument to a heroic leader

Welcome to 1964 Independence Avenue. Wondering why the address is significant? It’s to commemorate the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which Martin Luther King Jr. helped bring into being. He worked hard for the bill, and President Lyndon B. Johnson signed it with King and other civil rights leaders present.

If you’re here in the spring you might be lucky enough to catch the cherry trees blossoming. They’re an important part of the memorial’s design. King is positioned, carved into the statue gazing out at the trees. The Lincoln Memorial is also visible from here, which is where King gave his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

An honor to be the sculptor

A competition was held to appoint an artist to create a fitting memorial. Over 900 applicants from over 52 countries applied. The winning sculptor was Lei Yixin, from China, who used white granite from his home country. The memorial opened to visitors in August 2011.

Notice anything missing?

On the granite inscription wall you’ll find lots of King’s most memorable quotes. Apart from one of them – his ‘I have a dream’ speech is conspicuous by its absence. The memorial itself symbolizes a part of that very speech. And the architect wanted to draw attention to his lesser-known, but still profound quotes.

Other interesting facts about the Martin Luther King Memorial

  • The granite inscription wall is 450 feet (137 meters) long
  • The memorial symbolises King’s words ‘Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope’
  • The memorial’s dedication concert was postponed because of Hurricane Irene
  • King uttered one of the quotes on the inscription wall just 4 days before his assassination