People view the new Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial in Washington, Monday, Aug. 22, 2011.
By Daniel Malloy
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
WASHINGTON – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. took a permanent place today on the National Mall, as a federal memorial to the civil rights leader opened to the public.
A multicolored, multinational crowd of hundreds lined up early for a glimpse at the $120 million memorial, which features a 30-foot stone sculpture of King, arms folded, staring across the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial. The walls of the memorial are inscribed with quotes from King's famous speeches, including "I Have a Dream," delivered a stone's throw away at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.
The memorial will be formally dedicated Sunday with an event featuring speeches by President Barack Obama and others, but the memorial was unveiled this week for people who want an early look.
Michael Berry, 57, of Washington, arrived two hours early to claim the third place in line, bringing along a pencil-on-paper drawing he made of King. Berry, who was in junior high school when King was assassinated in 1968 and took the bus home to witness rioting in his neighborhood, marveled at the significance of the first memorial on the Mall honoring a non-president and first to honor an African-American.
"Young folks will come down here and ask, ‘Who was Martin Luther King? What was he about?'" Berry said. "Just like they ask about Abraham Lincoln."