It’s been a long time coming, but it looks as though construction crews will soon break ground on the Washington Mall monument to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King’s college fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha (which also happened to be my father’s fraternity) proposed the project, and Congress approved it in 1998.
The project has weathered several storms. It was criticized when organizers picked a sculptor in China to execute the design. Then the original sculpture of King was assailed as too “confrontational” by the Federal Commission of Fine Arts and had to be reworked slightly. The project later stalled amid debate over how much security is needed at the site.
It has also survived the predations of the King heirs, who sometimes interfered with fundraising for the project as they tried to get a cut of corporate money for themselves.
Planners hope that the memorial will be finished by summer 2011. It is a fine addition to the National Mall, a monument to a genuine American hero. King was not perfect, by any means; he was flawed. But he gave his life for an America of which we could all be justifiably proud.