The much-anticipated Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial dedication ceremony that was expected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to D.C. this Sunday has been cancelled due to Hurricane Irene. The very first memorial near the National Mall dedicated to a black man, the mammoth MLK statue would also be only the fourth to commemorate a non-President. Following the earthquake earlier this week, which cracked the Washington Memorial, 90mph winds are expected to wreak even further havoc on the capital, much to the disappointment of local business and residents who were preparing for the adoring throng of visitors that were expected to pay their respects to one of America’s most beloved icons.
Washington D.C. has had a rough week. First Bill McKibben and his posse of Keystone XL Pipeline protestors descended on the White House to put pressure on President Obama to reject a bill that would facilitate the easy transfer of billions of barrels of tar sands oil from Canada to Texas. Then an earthquake that measured 5.8 on the richter scale damaged several capital buildings. And now, the MLK memorial, which has been 15 years in the making and will cost a total of $120 million, will not be formally dedicated until the fall.
Designed in keeping with an excerpt from his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in which King said “out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope,” the memorial is comprised of one 30 foot granite “stone” – out of which the stately King emerges with two granite “mountains of despair” behind him, a 450 foot wall on which many of his most famous quotes are inscribed, and nearly 200 cherry trees. It is located on 1964 Independence Avenue (which references the 1964 Civil Rights Act that MLK was largely responsible for). MLK weathered many storms. Let’s hope his largest memorial to date can handle this one.