|Spectators enjoyed performances from artists like Stevie Wonder.|
As of recently, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial has been the talk of the town. Standing 30 feet tall and surviving an earthquake and a hurricane, the dedication ceremony on Sunday had even more to celebrate.
Thousands gathered at West Potomac Park to attend the ceremony, filled with numerous speakers and performances. Many of the speakers mentioned that the initial date for the
ceremony would have fallen on the 50th anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech.
Notable speakers, including President Barack Obama, Rev. Bernice King, U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-GA) and Rev. Al Sharpton, emphasized the importance of commemorating Dr. King not only as an icon, but also focusing on his ideals.
Rev. Bernice King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter, considered the rescheduling of the event to be more than weather interruptions.
“Could it be perhaps that the dedication not taken place on the anniversary of that great speech is indicative of God wanting us to move forward to look at the rest of King,” she said. “Perhaps the postponement was a divine interruption to remind us of the King that moved us beyond the dream of racial justice to the action and work of economic justice."
Some drew parallels between Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the election of Barack Obama. U.S. Represetative John Lewis of Gerogia said Obama’s election was just a “down payment” on King’s dream.
“We’re not there yet,” he said.
The Obamas and the Kings had a private tour of the monument before President Obama made his speech.
“Change has never been simple, or without controversy,” Obama said. “Change depends on persistence. Change requires determination.”
Many performances throughout the program stayed on message and kept the audience engaged, including the Ebenezer Baptist Church choir, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow and Sweet Honey and the Rock.
“The ceremony was inspiring to me because as we were honoring and celebrating an individual whose ideals transformed a nation," said Zahara Naki, a junior at GW who woke up at 5:00am to go to the ceremony.
"I couldn’t help but think of how far America has come, but also how far we need to go. What I got from it is really to take action against injustices and to speak up against what is wrong in society.”
To learn more about the memorial and the story behind its creation, visit the MLK memorial website