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MLK Memorial Dedicated this Sunday

By: Haris Tarin, MPAC

Sunday, Oct. 16, the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Memorial was dedicated in Washington, DC, on the National Mall. The ceremonial dedication was delivered by President Barack Obama and other speakers, including prominent civil rights leaders, faith leaders, musicians, poets and members of King’s family.

The entry to the memorial is through two stones, created from a single boulder and then separated to represent a “great monolithic struggle.” The parted boulder at the entrance is called Mountain of Despair and the boulder pushed forward with King’s engraved statue is called The Stone of Hope. The two main architectural components of the memorial were inspired by his famous “I Have a Dream” speech with these two inscriptions: “Out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope” and “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness” on each entrance stone. The sentiments from his speech still ring true today with the current climate of uncertainty, fear and despair for many minority communities in America. Obviously, King’s work is not done, he was just the impetus for many people to work and fight for hope and change.

 

Almost 20 years after his assassination, Alex Odeh, West Coast Regional Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, was also murdered as part of an attempt to continue to divide the nation on our differences rather than creating “a beautiful symphony of brotherhood” on our commonalities. America continues to experience factions within society who revel in divisions and weakness. Until today, Odeh’s family waits for the man who murdered him to be brought to justice.

 

In the tradition of King’s advocacy of nonviolence, Odeh worked to affect change for minority communities, through civic empowerment. The shortened lives of these two visionaries taken in their prime by extremists and racists are indicators of how badly their work was and is needed. America still struggles with blocks of people who seek to divide our nation rather than make it stronger based on our diversity.

 

The dedication of the King Memorial should be a reminder that our struggles are not over. We must continue to work on behalf of equity and equality for all, regardless of race, religion or creed. In the end, the fight for justice, compassion and equality are noble causes, and we should be thankful that we have brave souls who are willing to take on such enormous feats. It is a testament to the blessing of our diversity and our push for a stronger America.


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