Martin Luther King Jr. Day; A Monumental Experience

The Florida Times Union, January 16, 2012 | Go to article overview

Martin Luther King Jr. Day; A Monumental Experience


The nation marks Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday today, three months to the day after the dedication of his monument on Washington's National Mall. Hundreds of thousands of people have since then looked and lingered beneath the memorial's granite centerpiece that stares across the Tidal Basin at the Jefferson Memorial. And they've read quotes etched in marble that ring the monument's north end. First Coast residents who have visited the monument share their stories and photos - and what it and King mean to them.

Joseph A. Bastian, Jacksonville

I visited the Martin Luther King monument in September. To see the words of Dr. King etched in stone around the monument was very inspirational and to me served as a reminder of the struggles and victories that he must've faced. My visit was very memorable and inspiring. Something I will never forget.

Alfred Floyd, Syracuse, N.Y.

I was fortunate enough to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial during Thanksgiving. I was born and raised in Jacksonville and attended Jean Ribault High School.

The setting was perfect on that Friday morning. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and it was one of those U.S. Chamber of Commerce days. Viewing the statue of Dr. King was breathtaking. What really hit home was all of the sayings that were carved throughout the memorial.

Being there made you think of all of the struggles we as a country had to endure for equality. There was introspective reflection (as an African-American male) to maintain the dream that the pioneers of the civil rights movement started, yet continues.

And yes, the dream still lives.

The James Weldon Johnson Branch of The Association of the Life and Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) sponsored a bus trip to the dedication of the Martin Luther King Memorial on Oct. 16. Eighteen participants traveled to D.C. Some were joined by friends and family members.

The dedication was a stellar historical event in our nation's history as a tribute to the legacy of Dr. King. We were reminded that he called Americans by his example and advocacy to action and other countries around the world wherever inequities existed. America is a much more inclusive nation because of his advocacy for justice and equality.

The civil rights movement opened doors for upward mobility of blacks, minorities and women. He raised our consciousness to the negative impact of racism, classism, financial disparities, gender bias and adverse political involvement in foreign affairs. It was wonderful to hear the remarks made from King's vanguard co-laborers in the movement and high-powered individuals and the crescendo of affirmations from the crowd.a...

I found myself choked with emotions and humbled at the opportunity to share in the experience and the moment with its historical significance. America selected its first black president and built the first memorial to a person of color on the National Mall. The collective pride of the people in their accomplishment and their leaders was marked with respect.

I am a stronger and better person for the service of my county and reminded of the greatness and power of our collective actions.

Anita Shepherd

President, James Weldon Johnson Branch, ASALH, Jacksonville

[T]he memorial ... is an outstanding representation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the advancement of civil rights that he is best known for. Dr. King's image is chiseled as if he is emerging from a piece of stone that is center and forward of two other stones, symbolic of the amazing forward progress in civil rights Dr. King is rightly credited for. ... The memorial is beautifully laid out on the banks of the Tidal Basin where he delivered his 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech. It is in line between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, looking out over the basin in the direction of the Jefferson Memorial. …

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