Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial

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1964 Independence Avenue, Washington, DC, USA

Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Washington Reviews

WalterC WalterC
316 reviews
Should not miss along the Tidal Basin Jul 15, 2016
Located along the Tidal Basin, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is a national memorial to the Civil Rights leader himself. It is somewhere between the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial, and should not be hard to find.

A memorial to one of the biggest names in the Civil Rights Movement, if not the biggest, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a minister from the South, who helped achieve equality for blacks, by organizing non-violent protests and boycotts. But his biggest moment, was the “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, at the March on Washington. The speech was a call to end racism, and would cause the federal government to finally act to help advance the rights of African-Americans, with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Dedicated in 2011, there is a 30-foot statue of King himself, standing tall and proud, at the Stone of Hope. Behind him, is a mountain divided in half, named the Mountain of Despair. This represents the struggles that King had to go through. Around the memorial, are a bunch of quotes of the speeches that he has given them, with the year and location as well.

Being that it is conveniently located along the Tidal Basin route, this memorial cannot and should not be missed. Just seeing the tall statue of King himself is enough reason to check it out, but also nice to see that a national memorial has been erected in his honor.
Mountain of Despair
statue of MLK Jr, coming from Ston…
one of his quotes
more quotes
4 / 4 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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spocklogic spocklog…
265 reviews
More Mountain than Man Aug 13, 2015
The monument in Washington DC to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. is the most recent addition to the 'Grand' monuments in DC, which opened to the public in 2011. I understand the concept of King as part of the "Stone of Hope" emerging from the "Mountain of Despair", but it just seems more mountain than man to me. King himself is only partially finished in form, which is supposed to represent an unfinished life I guess. There is some appeal to this and reminiscent to many Michelangelo sculptures where the figure emerges from the marble not fully formed. A quote attributed to Michelangelo himself goes: "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it." Maybe so, but I'm not sure this representation of King really resonated with me as Michelangelo's figures do, but rather left the impression of a towering figure of worship who moves mountains, rather than a man who fought for social change and inspired people to look beyond the color of a man's skin to see the soul of humanity.

Like many memorials built in DC, there is always some controversy surrounding them. Andy (Andy99) and Bill (Zagnut66) have covered some of these, so see their reviews for that perspective. This memorial was funded by a non-profit organization now called just "The Memorial Foundation" ( Originally it was called "The Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Foundation" but the King family refused to grant a license to continue using the name "Martin Luther King, Jr." in the title of their foundation. Further, The Memorial Foundation ended up paying close to $800,000 to the King family for using his name and quotes from his writings and speeches on the memorial. It's an ongoing criticism of the King family that they milk every dollar they can from the Martin Luther King, Jr. legacy. My knowledge of this may have tainted my appreciation.

Nevertheless, this monument is worth seeing to form your own opinion and gather some inspiration from Dr. King, the man, his life's work, and lasting influence. What perhaps concerned me the most about this memorial is that it did not instill in me King's vision or illustrate the issues of his time that remain with us in our time. It seems to be a memorial, in my first impression, just for the sake of making a commemoration to Dr. King in DC. Perhaps revisiting it again, after reflecting on it more, will reveal a deeper appreciation. The monuments in DC are not "Seen that, check it off" types of sights, but are meant to be explored and appreciated over time. This can not be solely done on one visit, and multiple visits reveal the deeper intangibles, subtleties and aesthetics.
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Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
4 / 4 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
spocklogic says:
As Machiavelli said, "Politics have no relation to morals". Sad, but true...
Posted on: Sep 06, 2016
jethanad says:
politicking is a profession. Pity we elect these officials, pay them fat salaries, then we have to suffer their pettiness for 2-4-6 years, even lifetimes !
Posted on: Aug 23, 2016
spocklogic says:
Does seem that way - Sign of our times I guess!
Posted on: Sep 20, 2015
Andy99 Andy99
579 reviews
Emerging from the Stone of Hope Mar 21, 2012
Cherry Blossom season seemed to me to be the ideal time to visit the newest addition to Washington's monuments to those who have made a difference--the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial. The monument to the well-known Civil Rights leader had been long anticipated. It was opened to the public on August 22, 2011, and officially dedicated in October.

The monument is located on the Tidal Basin, the first in the area of the National Mall to honor an African-American individual. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), had begun his non-violent Civil Rights activism in 1955 and made three significant appearances in Washington, in 1957, in 1963 (when he delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial), and in 1968. Significantly, the monument is in a direct line between the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial, connecting themes of individual freedom and liberty.

The monument works in very well with its Tidal Basin Setting. Quotations by Dr. King line a semicircular Inscription Wall. The designer's intention is for the visitor to have the impression that Dr. King is speaking his words directly to you. A statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. is carved in a 30 foot (9.1 m) granite block. This is known as the "Stone of Hope". It has emerged from the "Mountain of Despair", two other large granite blocks behind the statue that anchor the Inscription Wall. The names reference the "I have a Dream" speech.

The design of the memorial has not been without controversy. The statue was carved in China and imported. An abbreviated quotation from the "Drum Major" sermon was carved into one side of the Stone of Hope. Many have said the excerpted quote distorts the meaning of the sermon from which it derives. (The National Park Service has said it will fix this, though the designer has objected.)

Visitors to Washington, DC, will want to put this new memorial on their agenda. It is right on the Tidal Basin, so it is easy to reach when visiting the Jefferson Memorial. But, one should make a visit in any case to read the inscriptions and allow Dr. King to speak to you.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Stone of Hope emerges from the…
Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Sto…
Inscription Wall
9 / 9 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
bernard69 says:
Posted on: Mar 24, 2012
montecarlostar says:
Congrats on the feature, Andy! Great review! :D
Posted on: Mar 24, 2012
monky says:
Congrats on your featured review Andy! have a great weekend:D
Posted on: Mar 24, 2012
Zagnut66 Zagnut66
110 reviews
Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Oct 05, 2012
As the other reviewers have noted, this a visually stunning memorial. The massive presence of Dr. King as he emerges from the Stone of Hope dominates the plaza. The further you move away from the memorial site along the Tidal Basin, however, the figure seems to shrink away. The sculpture was originally designed to be much larger, yet the reclaimed swamp land on which West Potomac Park rests could only handle so much weight (hence the problem of the Jefferson Memorial slowly sinking back into the muck).

Much of the controversy stems from the selection of a Chinese sculptor, Lei Yixin (who previously sculpted Mao Zedong), to craft the Stone of Hope. The work was done in China using Chinese granite and shipped to the United States. Critics accused the selection committee of accepting the Chinese bid in order to gain the $25 million donation to the project promised by the Chinese government. Many felt the memorial should have been placed in the hands of African-American artists rather than sent overseas.

This isn't the first prominent American memorial made in a foreign land - the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France after all. What the MLK Memorial touches on are the debates surrounding globalization, such as the exporting of jobs and manufacturing to Asian nations with lower labor costs and regulations (a controversial subject influencing the upcoming presidential election). Leaving aside arguments on the pros and cons of globalization, it is something that has impacted nearly everyone who has or will visit the MLK Memorial. I have mixed feelings on all this, but must note that the moral vision of racial equality King championed is a universal vision applicable to all cultures and people, including China. There is much to ponder at the memorial site that every visitor to Washington should include in their itinerary.

The photos I took a year ago just days after the official induction ceremony in October 2011.
MLK emerging from the Stone of Hope
The Mountain of Despair
Facing the Tidal Basin
Another view
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
spocklogic says:
'Made in China' eh? Well, MLK hoped one day people would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Still, there are cultural differences in approach to art (like sculptures). MLK does look sort of Maoish in the sculpture now that I think of it this way.

Posted on: Oct 05, 2012
HuBison HuBison
417 reviews
Happy to have it, am yet a bit disappointed Jun 24, 2012
I have visited the MLK memorial twice and I have mixed feelings. The first time I went, I went with a friend of mine and it had had just opened. We even saw the architect walking around and he was eventually swamped with folks who wanted to take his picture, so he left at some point. It seems a bit out of place to walk all the way down Ohio Drive when nothing much else is around, but you can follow the basin, enjoy a nice breeze and reach other parts of the Mall.

The 2nd time, I went with my family. My uncle had made several donations and was told there would be a wall with his name on it as a donor and none of the park rangers knew what we were talking about when we asked. It took us a while to walk there as there was no way of knowing if there'd be enough parking, so we took the metro instead of driving. It is great to have the memorial, yet it seems so small compared to everything else down on the Mall; now granted, he wasn't a president, but he affected the country just as much as one would, if not I have mixed feelings.

Bring water, wear comfortable shoes and consider meeting one of the park rangers for a free tour at their specifically posted times.
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
LulaPowell LulaPowe…
1 reviews
Wonderful Historial Monument and Tribute to Freedom and Civil Rights Nov 30, 2012
Touring the monument of Martin Luther King is an awesome reminder of human rights and freedom for all people.

It was a beautiful monument and it created an atmosphere of reverence for freedom and democracy.

It is scenic and located among all of the wonderful monuments in the Washington DC area.

While standing at the site you can see the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and Jeffereson Memorial in nearby surrounding areas.

It is an awesome visit and one well worth your time.

I am truly thankful this Thanksgiving for God Blessing me with an opportunity to visit this wonderful tribute and reminder of the Civil Rights Movement.
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Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Map
1 review
photo by: b93sp