Travels with Sissy: Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

MLK Statue

A visit to Washington D.C. is the best reminder to anyone of what is great about America…and how we can be even better. The memorials of those before us who strived for a land where everyone can speak freely-without the fear of persecution, or follow their own dreams to create their unique destiny- without prejudice.

Martin Luther King Jr. epitomized the yearning for all to be heard and accepted, no matter the race, gender or religion. He was born January 15, 1929 and would become a clergyman in the south. His power and delivery with words made his speeches resonate in many people. Americans ready for a new era of acceptance & love, solving our problems thru communicating with one another in a civil tone.

The 30 feet high solid granite memorial of Martin Luther King Jr. can be found at 1964 Independence Avenue S.W. in West Potomac Park.  The address commemorates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 becoming a law. It symbolizes ‘Out of a Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope.’ This memorial is the first to honor an African-American on or near the National Mall, and only the fourth non-president.

In 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. was the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his commitment to end racial segregation and racial discrimination. Four years later, on April 4, 1968, he was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee while supporting the Memphis Sanitation Strike. His words of love, tolerance, and perseverance to achieve a gentler & kinder world can be found on the Inscription Wall at the monument. The quotes were chosen to ‘stress four primary messages of Dr. King: justice, democracy, hope and love’ (National Park Service).

The fourteen quotes on the Inscription Wall are:

  • “We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” (March 31, 1968, National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.)
  • “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” (1963, Strength to Love)
  • “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” (December 10, 1964, Oslo, Norway)
  • “Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.” (April 18, 1959, Washington, D.C.)
  • “I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against it not in anger but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as a moral example of the world.” (February 25, 1967, Los Angeles, California)
  • “If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.” (December 24, 1967, Atlanta, Georgia)
  • “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” (April 16, 1963, Birmingham, Alabama)
  • “I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.” (December 10, 1964, Oslo, Norway)
  • “It is not enough to say “We must not wage war.” It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but on the positive affirmation of peace.” (December 24, 1967, Atlanta, Georgia)
  • “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” (February 25, 1967, Los Angeles, California)
  • “Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.” (April 4, 1967, Riverside Church, Manhattan, New York)
  • “We are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” (December 5, 1955, Montgomery, Alabama)
  • “We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.” (April 16, 1963, Birmingham, Alabama)
  • “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” (April 16, 1963, Birmingham, Alabama)

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