black arts

King Memorial Dedication Awaited By All

The "Stone of Hope"

BY DAVID STOKES

"The Prince of Peace" is near ready to be unveiled to the nation -- and the world -- in granite stone in Washington, D.C., on August 28, after over two decades of planning and coordinating logistics of placement, identifying the sculptor and other challenges that have captivated well-wishers and interested parties toward positioning a non-president on the city's majestic National Mall.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- arguably Georgia's most famous native son, alongside former President Jimmy Carter -- has been remembered and revered for many public addresses which have ultimately pricked the nation's conscience to assist with eradicating prejudice and injustice. Indeed, this August 28 is the 48th anniversary of King's

"I Have A Dream" speech during the March on Washington in 1963. Nevertheless, longtime admirers of King -- also monikered the "drum major for justice" since his 1968 assassination -- have looked forward to the prestigious setting of the civil rights leader, normally reserved for U.S. presidents, in the heart of the nation's Capitol near the respective Lincoln and Jefferson memorials on Independence Avenue, NW. "The universal goodness of God continuously unfolds through obedience, inspiration and the sacrifices of Martin Luther King, Jr. (The unveiling) will be a great day; to God be the glory!," proclaimed Mrs. Omie Dixon, the retired administrative assistant, who resides in southwest Atlanta, to renowned educator W.E.B. DuBois during his tenure at Atlanta University, indicating, too, that DuBois would be "excitingly pleased" of King's distinctive honor.

Although the inimitable Mrs. Dixon will not be attending the unveiling ceremony but taking it all in by watching CNN or MSNBC, buses will be transporting parents and children to Washington, D.C. for the historic occasion. Buses will leave Atlanta, for example, from Morehouse College (King's alma mater) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) headquarters, as well as other locales from around the nation. (For more information, call SCLC at 404.522.1420.) Nonetheless, speakers providing comment for the unveiling include President Barack Obama, Martin Luther King 3rd, Alpha Phi Alpha's Skip Mason and Harry Johnson, Sr., executive director of the MLK Memorial Foundation, Inc. Another speaker will be Dr. King's only surviving sibling, Dr. Christine King Farris, along with the "dean" of the civil rights movement, the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery (b1921). In an Atlanta Inquirer guest op-ed, additionally, Isaac Newton Farris, Jr., King's nephew who was recently elected SCLC's president/CEO, pronounced the family's pleasure with the National Mall acknowledgement. "There is a sense of pride when I think about the guy I share DNA with ...and a guy I actually know (who has) a monument built in his honor in the A-list section on the mall in the nation's Capitol," Farris proclaims. "The proudest thing for me -- and for Uncle M.L., I think -- is the long-term impact it will have on American society ...as the first time a monument has been built to honor an African-American -- and that this is the first monument (created) for PEACE and NONVIOLENCE, where people can ultimately realize, with the nonviolence of passive resistance and love and peace for fellow human beings, future generations will know it is possible to meet violence with nonviolence ... and win." (Farris' op-ed, "Honoring Uncle M.L.," can be read in its entirety on page 4.)

Exclaimed King's namesake, "I feel very proud that my father is being honored with a major memorial on the National Mall," Martin Luther King 3rd commented to The Inquirer last week. "More importantly, I am very proud of my country for making this memorial to a man of peace such a major part of America's heritage. Having his image carved in "the Stone of Hope" on the Mall -- so close to the Lincoln, Jefferson and Franklin D. Roosevelt memorials, respectively -- provides a powerful and symbolic affirmation of my father's often-stated belief that 'unearned suffering for a just cause is redemptive.' We have a long way to go before we can say we have fulfilled my father's dream of the 'beloved community'. However, this MLK Memorial offers a spirit of hope and encouragement to us all to reach out to one another, roll up our sleeves and meet the challenge of his dream."

The prophetic memorial is indeed long overdue and appropriate for the human rights leader, according to admirers, including Harry Johnson, Sr., the MLK Memorial Foundation's director in Washington, D.C. Last weekend amidst admirers snapping pictures of the memorial, Johnson took a few minutes to comment what it should mean to the public at-large, and how the creation affects him personally.

AI: Did you ever truly believe the MLK Memorial would be completed and unveiled as the "Stone of Hope" it is today for the ages?

HJ: Needless to say, we are proud of the accomplishment. Although the financial challenges were there, we knew we'd eventually get to this day.

AI: After 26 years of soliciting funds for the memorial, has the financial goal in-full been met?

HJ: We've kept meeting that challenge. Today, $6 million is still needed, and hopefully, by the time of the unveiling this weekend, we will have secured the remainder of the money (bringing the total raised to $120 million).

AI: What has been your personal vision of this awesome process for the memorial since 1985?

HJ: Well, since this started 26 years ago, we have just wanted the project built, and done on time after the 2011 date was announced. I must also note that the people's monetary and overall support for the project, along with corporations' support, has been very much appreciated, too.

AI: How do you expect the MLK Memorial will impact the nation and the world?

HJ: Without a doubt, many people will be enhanced by this memorial and continue to appreciate the man's greatness and legacy.

AI: Although she did not live to witness the final product, how do you believe Mrs. Coretta Scott King (1927-2006) would surmise the memorial?

HJ: I'm certain she would be very pleased with the overall design, and of the "Stone of Hope" itself.


CBC Conducts Town Hall Meeting At ATC

Congressman John Lewis makes a point during a recent "Town Hall Meeting" held at the Atlanta Technical College as Congressman Sanford Bishop and Congresswoman Maxine Waters listen. PHOTO BY HORACE HENRY

BY HORACE HENRY

Seven members of the US Congressional Black Caucus gathered on the campus of Atlanta Technical College for a "Town Hall Meeting" recently. The group fielded questions from an audience that was more than anxious to hear what the member's positions were relating to the growing U.S. jobs crisis.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters stated there is a concern that if Black people question the president about anything, those who support him would think that "if we question him, we are against him". She went on to say that it is time for us to question anyone whom we feel is not addressing the needs of the people, and this includes the President of The United States.

Several members, including Congresswoman Laura Richardson (D.CA.), expressed the growing disparity which exists between Blacks and Whites when it comes to unemployment and jobs. Congressman John Lewis made a point when he emphasized that we need to stand together to let our voices be heard in our effort to cry out for jobs. The elder congressman went on to say, "We didn't have cell phones, there was no internet, we didn't have facebook. There were no computers or i-pads. But we used what we had to mobilize, and this is what you have to do today!

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This "Town Hall Meeting" was the culmination of an all day jobs fair that was sponsored by the CBC. Attendance of the jobs fair was said to be over seven thousand.