Out of the Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope

by J-Mirabelli

Thousands of people spanning all ages and races honored the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. during the formal dedication of the New Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Sunday October 16, 2011 in Washington.

Aretha Franklin, poet Nikki Giovanni and President Barack Obama were among those who attended the ceremony. Some in the crowd arrived as early as 5 a.m., eventually overflowing beyond the park gates.

About 1.5 million people are estimated to have visited the 30-foot-tall statue of King and the granite walls where fourteen of his quotations are carved in stone. The memorial is the first on the National Mall honoring a black leader.

The sculpture of King with his arms crossed appears to emerge from a stone extracted from a mountain. Carved by Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin, the design was inspired by a line from the famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”

The nation’s first black president, who was just 6 years old when King was assassinated in 1968, saluted King as a man who pushed the nation toward what it ought to be and changed hearts and minds at the same time.

“He had faith in us,” President Obama said. “And that is why he belongs on this Mall, because he saw what we might become.”

Rev. Al Sharpton called for people to walk through the stone of hope and emerge to see “the face that brought us from the back of the bus to the White House.”

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