Washington, DC (January 16, 2012) – On the National Mall in Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. is a towering, heroic figure carved in stone. On the Broadway stage, he’s a living, breathing man who chain smokes, sips liquor and occasionally curses.
As Americans honor King’s memory 44 years after he was assassinated, the image of the slain civil rights leader is evolving.
The new King memorial, which opened in August in the nation’s capital, celebrates the ideals King espoused. Quotations from his speeches and writings conjure memories of his message, and a 30-foot-tall sculpture depicts King emerging as a “stone of hope” from a “mountain of despair,” a design inspired by a line of his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Some gaze upon this figure in silence. Some smile and pull out cell phone cameras. Others chat about how closely the statue resembles King. And some are moved to tears.