(WASHINGTON, DC) -- With the words “I have a dream” echoing across the plaza of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial site, Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced today that the District is ready to welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors expected to attend the Memorial’s dedication.
“The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a revolution that transformed the world,” said Mayor Gray. “We in the District of Columbia are taking that revolution to the next level in our quest for self-determination. Throughout the weeks leading up to the dedication, the District of Columbia will host several events to engage residents in this historic occasion.”
The District of Columbia events include:
• A special preview of the memorial for District residents (Tuesday, August 23 )
• Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue Street Dedication (Thursday, August 25)
• “Welcome to D.C.” Reception (for out-of-town elected officials and civil rights leaders) hosted by Mayor Gray (Friday, August 26)
• D.C. Full Democracy Freedom Rally and March (Saturday, August 27)
• Film showings, exhibits and a speaker series at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library (throughout August and September)
Dr. Harry E. Johnson, Sr., President and CEO of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Foundation, joined Mayor Gray and said, “We are so thrilled that this Memorial to Dr. King will grace the National Mall in this great city, the District of Columbia. We are so grateful to Mayor Gray for his leadership and for the support of his administration and the District’s residents.”
Speakers at the announcement included Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who was a co-sponsor of the legislation creating the national Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday; and the Rev. Willie Wilson, National Director of the National Action Network March on Washington and pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church. Both Congresswoman Norton and Rev. Wilson are members of the D.C. Host Committee.
“As a young member of the March on Washington staff I worked for its success, but did not dare hope that Martin Luther King, Jr. would make the march a defining event of the 20th century it is now recognized to be,” said Congresswoman Norton. “Today, 48 years later, I thank Mayor Vincent Gray for leading the city in using the historic dedication of the King Memorial to remind America of Dr. King's unfinished business for equality for the American citizens who live here in the city where the Memorial stands.”
“As we celebrate the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, Washingtonians are mindful that our revolution for self-determination continues,” said Rev. Wilson. “We will use the tools given us by Dr. King to ensure we win our struggle for justice and full voting rights in Congress.”
Other speakers included the Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy, the District’s first elected delegate to Congress and President of the National Black Leadership Roundtable, who spoke on the historical significance of the dedication; Wade Henderson, President of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund, who drew comparisons between the movement of yesterday and the political realities of civil rights today; and Maudine Cooper, President and CEO of the Greater Washington Urban League, who shared the significance of the dedication to the local community. D.C. Co-Youth Mayor-Elect Ryan Washington capped the morning with his talk on what the Memorial means for younger generations.
Mayor Gray introduced the D.C. Official Host Committee, which includes D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown and members of the Council; Co-Youth Mayor-Elect Cecilia Thompson; and members of the clergy, media and D.C. business community.
Mayor Gray concluded his remarks by acknowledging the Department of Public Works sanitation employees who assisted with the press conference: “Dr. King gave his all to support the Memphis sanitation workers, and I want to thank their D.C. counterparts who honor his memory by assisting us today.”
For more important about the District events related to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial opening, visit www.mlkmemorial.dc.gov.
For information about the official events for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial dedication, visit www.dedicatethedream.org.
• List of D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Dedication Events
• List of D.C. Official Host Committee Members