Wednesday, September 7, 2011

MLK Returns

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered one of the most important civil rights speeches in history on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Now, his likeness returns to the National Mall in the form of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

Located opposite the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and next to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial along the Tidal Basin, the site includes three massive granite stones. Two of the stones mark the entrance to the memorial and the third sits closer to the Tidal Basin water with King's image carved into the 30-foot tall stone. Two-stone entrance symbolizes the Mountain of Despair and the stone with King's image represents the Stone of Hope, inspired by the MLK quote, "hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope."

After photographing the memorial from all angles on Sunday, I really like the depiction of King here. Critics of the memorial did not appreciate that its architect was a Chinese national. They felt his background impacted the accuracy of King's likeness. In person, I did not think this was the case at all.

From my vantage point, King's visage was familiar and beautifully crafted. Besides, didn't King ask us to judge others by the content of their characters and not the color of their skin? To be modern caretakers of his dream, we should extend that principle to the memorial designers as well, regardless of where they call home.


  1. I agree! It makes me think of the college student that designed the Vietnam Memorial--there was a lot of criticism from some that she was Asian. She said that if names were attached to designs in the design contest for the memorial, she doesn't think she would've won. That's just sad...

  2. Good day,

    I am an Event and Marketing Coordinator at the Georgia Institute of Technology and I love the image above of Dr. King. We are having some upcoming celebrations in July and I would like to use your image for some flyers if I have your permission. Please let me know your thoughts. We greatly appreciate it!


    Najah Hofman
    Event and Marketing Coordinator II
    Office of the Vice President Institute Diversity
    Georgia Institute of Technology
    237 Uncle Heinie Way, Suite 207 E
    Atlanta, Georgia 30332-0740
    (404) 894-3070 (Phone)
    (407) 538-8923 (Cell)
    (404) 385-6940 (Fax)