Sunday, President Barack Obama will speak at the unveiling of the newest monument in Washington, one that’s long overdue.
It’s to the Rev. Martin Luther King, the indomitable civil rights leader who used peaceful protest to urge this country to eliminate vestiges of racism that hung on for more than a century after the Civil War ended.
Here’s an interesting story about the monument, and the long, bickering road to its development by the Associated Press. More after the jump.From The Associated Press:
Lesser hurdles have halted others who aspired to build monuments on the mall.
“We have persevered,” said Harry Johnson, a 56-year-old Houston attorney and Alpha Phi Alpha member who for the past 11 years led an effort that culminates Sunday with a massive ceremony featuring President Barack Obama. “Even though we’ve had dark days and dark clouds, we were able to always see a silver lining in the sky, knowing, understanding and believing it was always going to happen.”
One of the darkest days was 9/11, Johnson said, because the memorial foundation was set to go public with its fundraising campaign but had to put plans on hold as the country recovered. Then came the Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and other disasters, plus an economic downturn, all of which made raising donations even more daunting.
Race, too, was a factor in the struggle over how the memorial would be conceived.
The surprise selection of a Chinese sculptor for King’s statue in 2007 eventually drew protests. A black painter launched a petition to try to force a change, saying black artists should have first rights to interpret the memory of the man who did so much for his fellow African-Americans. A bronze sculptor from Denver complained he was pushed aside. Human rights advocates chimed in, saying King would have detested China’s record on civil liberties.
It’s a long story (for the AP) but worth the read.