Library of Congress
A greater nation… A finer world.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial honors a man of conscience; the freedom movement of which he was a beacon; and his message of freedom, equality, justice and love. It is the first on the National Mall devoted, not to a United States President or war hero, but a citizen activist for civil rights and peace. Dr. King, an African-American, brings "the image of America… the melting pot of the world" to the National Mall, but his message was universal. His non-violent philosophy pushed insistently towards the goal of the American Experiment - universal freedom and equality. His principled rhetoric illuminated the Nation's journey. With his life under constant threat, his last public talk left us this inspiration: "I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land."
THE MEASURE OF A MAN
The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s followed southern-state defiance of the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education (1954) ruling that segregation was unconstitutional. Dr. King dove in and supported it without reserve: He assumed leading roles in Montgomery (1954); the Crusade for Voting Rights (his first speech at Lincoln Memorial, 1957); the Atlanta restaurant sit-in (1960); the intercity Freedom Riders and Albany (Georgia) Movement (1961); Birmingham Campaign (1963); the Children's Crusade for "freedom now" so their parents could see freedom before they died (1963); the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, from which his "I Have a Dream" still resounds (1963); St. Augustine, Florida, and Mississippi (1964); the Voting Rights March from Selma to Montgomery (1965); the Chicago drive against slums and poverty (1965); the "Meredith Mississippi March against Fear" (1966); and more. Frivolous arrests repeatedly landed him in jail and attracted Federal-authority attention to injustices to Blacks. Montgomery led to the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and 1960; Birmingham, to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which Dr. King was present to see President Johnson sign; Selma, to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In 1967, expanding his message of peace, Dr. King spoke out against the Vietnam conflict (1959-1975), then at its height in casualties.
Did You Know?
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, culminated in Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered a stone’s throw away from the memorial, before the Reflecting Pool, underneath the benevolent watch of the statue of President Abraham Lincoln.