My Day at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Even though I wasn’t able to attend the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC when it first opened to the public August 22, 2011, seeing it on a rainy day years later in the Fall of 2016 was just as exciting and emotional for me as I’m sure it was for everyone in attendance on opening day!

The 30-foot statue of Dr. King rising out of a stone of hope, with arms folded across his chest, is simply breathtaking and captures his likeness perfectly! This monument covers 4 acres and includes 17 quotations from Dr. King’s popular speeches inscribed in granite panels by Chinese sculptor, Lei Yixin. The inspiration for the memorial design comes from a line in Dr. King’s “I HAVE A DREAM” speech:

“Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”

If you plan to visit the monument today in celebration of Dr. King’s legacy or have this “Must-See” national treasure on your U.S. travel bucket list, the official address of the monument is 1964 Independence Avenue, S. W., commemorating the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There is no fee to visit. The memorial is open 24 hours a day because of its outdoor setting. Bookstore, restrooms, and drinking fountains are located across the West Basin Drive near the main entrance.

While you’re in the area, located at the northwest corner of the Tidal Basin, is the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial to the northwest, and the Jefferson Memorial to the southeast that you should visit too!

January 21, 2013 is a Significant Day in US History

Today, January 21, 2013, is a very significant day in U.S. History for:
1) We as a nation are celebrating the 57th inauguration of the first African American President, Barack Hussein Obama, for a second term;
2) My family and local community are spending the whole day observing and honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,  a prominent American clergyman, activist, and leader of the Civil Rights Movement.

57th Inauguration Ceremony

President Obama’s family watches as he takes the oath of office for a second time. Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Associated Press, January 21, 2013

Even though I am not in Washington, D.C. where the inauguration of President Barack Obama is actively taking place, I am glued to my television, as are members of my family (especially our children), watching this unforgettable day unfold.

Oh how I wish all of my ancestors who experienced firsthand but did not live through — slavery, the dangers of the Reconstruction Era, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights Movement — could see this day! Yet, there were times when I could feel their presence all around me. And whenever I felt their presence I would quickly look at the palms of my hands and Thich Nhat Hanh’s words would come to mind assuring me . . .

. . .  into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.”

When I turned to Google to search for more information and news coverage about all of the inaugural festivities planned for the day, I paused to enjoy the Martin Luther King, Jr. Google Doodle in blue, purple and yellow that you see below.

MLK Google Doodle - January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King Google Doodle – January 21, 2013

In place of the first “o” in the word Google, there is a side profile of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and when clicked, takes you to the first 50 out of 467,000,000 results about the the life and legacy of Dr. King and his role in American History – WOW!

Until today, I don’t believe I have ever paid attention to the Google Doodles as much as this one. I understand that this is not the first MLK Doodle to grace the search engine’s homepage.

Past MLK Google Doodles:

2011

MLK Google Doodle, 2011

MLK Google Doodle, 2011

I don’t know about you, but seeing the 2011 MLK Google Doodle above made me think of that part of Dr. King’s speech that says,

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and little white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today!”

2010

MLK Google Doodle, 2010

MLK Google Doodle, 2010

The 2010 MLK Google Doodle above is definitely my favorite because it captures the famous 1965 voting rights march Dr. King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, did from Selma, AL to Montgomery, AL that drew 8,000 people!

This truly has been a wonderful day of celebrations my family and I won’t soon forget!

How are you celebrating this special day in our nation’s history? Let me know!

Do you remember where you were on April 4, 1968 at 6:01 pm?

On Thursday, April 4, 1968, at 6:01 pm, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned down while standing on the balcony outside of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN. Do you remember Where you were (and what you were doing) on the evening of April 4, 1968?

I was eight years old at the time,  and at 6:01 pm I was at home having dinner with my family when news of his death came to us by TV. My oldest brother was a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin. He had made it back to his dorm room just in time before angry riots about Dr. King’s assassination broke out across campus.

At age 8, I knew nothing about the hardships the Memphis sanitation workers were going through that brought Dr. King to Memphis. But what I do know was how quiet and still my family was for the rest of the evening as we listened to Walter Cronkite give graphic details about how he died and how Memphis policemen were frantically looking for his killer.

As I learned more about what happened to Dr. King, I felt as though the world was on fire, as news of his death sparked riots around our nation. Then to see Mrs. King just a few days later on TV dressed in black leading thousands of people in a funeral procession through the streets of Atlanta was very emotional and heart-wrenching for a child like me to watch.

Life Magazine, 1968January 15, 2012, was Dr. King’s 83rd birthday, and today the third Monday in January, is his official federal holiday! Its been a long time since I thought about where I was the day he died until I came on April 12, 1968, LIFE MAGAZINE (featured at the top of this post) that my father purchased for 35¢ featuring Dr. King and exclusive pictures about his death in Memphis. Once I picked myself up off the floor over this 108-page issue costing 35¢ in 1968, I was visually carried back in time to one of the saddest moments in American history, as well as how this young black Baptist preacher was a true change agent for freedom and justice for us all!

After Dr. King’s death he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004. But two of the best  honors of all came:

So, do you remember where you were on the evening of April 4, 1968, at 6:01 pm? If you do, share your moment in history with me!