What does the Martin Luther King monument mean?

Adelle M. Banks

Adelle M. Banks
August 25, 2011

The placement of the Martin Luther King monument is particularly meaningful to the Rev. Otis Moss Jr.

August 25, 2011

King deserves a monument. He was a prophet for our time. I'm just not sure its this monument. This is more about a giant pair of rigid, marble pants and giant coat topped by a tiny head which is hard to see. It reminds me of a chairman Mao monument. He deserves something more personal and expressive.

August 25, 2011

"What does the monument mean?" 

That will be easier to answer after the speeches on Sunday if they survive the scheduled Hurricane. I will be disappointed if this turns into a pat-on the back, America is the promised land of equality festival because you just aren't there yet. Not that there hasn't been a lot of progress but any East-Asian travelling through customs will tell you discrimination is brutally obvious. Now it is called "National Security." My Muslim friends refuse to take their kids to the US any more because of the way they are treated at the US customs. Canadian companies even invest more in teleconferencing so our employees don't have to travel as much. When travel is unavoidable so are the delays.There is still much to be done but it can't be done with hate and suspicion.My hope is that they used the $120 Million investment to create jobs with most of that in labour. Hopefully they take the opportunity to acknowledge Dr. King's message of non-violence and the important course correction he brought to American History and begin to look at peace in the World through his lens of hope and expand that possibility to the world stage. "Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love."  - Martin Luther King Jr. 

- If it is just going to be a bunch of hypocrites telling the world how they treat everyone as equal the storm may as well take the stage. -  As if the Earth quake wasn't a first warning...

August 25, 2011

Lots of agreement here---could have been less of a statue, more of symbolic portrayal of life and legacy.  I think of the profound and lasting emotional power of Maya Lin's Vietnam War memorial/monument, and all since have paled in comparison.

August 26, 2011

I actually liked the lack of ambiguity about it, the rather obvious singular message that "this was a great man, deserving of a monument in his honor." I think that in this case, that really worked.

The reason the Vietnam War memorial's ambiguity was so effective was that the Vietnam War itself was an ambiguous cultural symbol, meaning many things to different people, and the memorial allowed them to honor the dead while holding to their own meaning about the war. The ambiguity of the memorial is seen in the fact that the "response" sculpture a short distance away—erected by those who thought that Lin's memorial was anti-war—doesn't get nearly as much attention; even those who continue to approve of the war come to the Wall to pay their respects to those who fell in it.

Dr. King, on the other hand, isn't a very ambiguous cultural symbol, nor in my opinion should he be. He is all but universally praised as a great man—and there isn't a whole lot of interest in building a memorial that would ambiguously allow those who dislike him to see their opinions reflected. And I like that this memorial was unambiguous about that.

I also liked that the memorial wasn't "just" about civil rights, but was pretty straightforward about his opposition to the Vietnam War, his support of peace and justice, and his struggle for economic and social justice. It would have been easy to just pepper the memorial with "free at last, free at last" and make it all about the civil rights movement, but whoever chose the quotations highlighted at the memorial seems to have understood that equality for African-Americans was only part of a coherent philosophy that also included opposition to imperialistic war, support of just peacemaking, and an economic philosophy of social democracy in which the rights of workers are respected.

By the way, if anyone reading this is in the area anytime soon and wants to visit the memorial, I recommend going at sunset; by day, the stones are white, but the combination of a red/purple sunset, the amber lighting, and the deep blues of the shadow at sunset really make the memorial come alive. I went there on Tuesday evening with some friends, and have posted my pictures on Flickr, if you want to see what it looks like...

August 26, 2011

Thank you for posting the beautiful photos and your wonderful description. I wish I could find a good list of the quotes that are supposed to lead up to the statue. 

I'm not a fan of statues generally because I was raised with a very strict interpretation of the commandment about idols but I understand that Dr. King stood in the shadow of another great statue to make his great speech so it is probably appropriate.  I guess the real legacy and meaning will be the inspiration than comes from the actions inspired in the hearts of the those who visit the memorial and realize that God works his wonders every day when good men and women choose PEACE over violence. At least I hope so.BTW Hurricane Irene may be a force to be reckoned with. The name "Irene" means PEACE. Just FYI. :)  Thank you God for Martin Luther King Jr.

September 1, 2011

Hopefully,another monument will be created.One with him behind a bank of microphones surrounded by his supporters.Or something like the US Korean war memorial,with soldiers marching through the rain.
A marching Martin would have portrayed the true spirit of the man.
The "Stalinlike" statue in the picture is the first time I have ever seen MLK in this position.

Sharon Young
February 12, 2019

What does Martin L king monument stand for?

For me it symbolized his dreams and why he died for the dream with all due respect to all we all have our own opinion about who he was as a living breathing human being. It reminded me why he died in he first place. When I seen his stature it brought tears to my eyes because this man died believing that all humanity would come together as one, and stop pointing fingers at each other about the context, and the color of our skin. And that all man kind should be equally no matter what creed, color, or race, or religion. More importantly stop the killing and the mistreatment towards one another. I just feel that we have to keep his dream alive any means necessary this is why they give him a national holiday to remind us to no let his death be in vain. Because he was the only one that said he seen he mountain top and in that mountain top was no color, violent or betrayal. It was peace and the people holding hands, and treating each other with eternal love towards all man kind. That is what his monument statue reminds me of. An lets not forget his favorite saying free at last, free at last, thank God almighty that we are all free at last. Amen.

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