Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the Mall forty-eight years ago to deliver a speech. The memory of that very speech was culminated in a history lesson from my mother as we walked through the brand new memorial that was to be revealed Sunday, August 28th, 2011.
I had planned not to attend because I knew that it would be too many people and not enough space for me to enjoy and take in the moment. When I woke up this morning, I had nowhere to go, but something on the inside of me knew exactly where I should be. With a quick mom pick-up we went over the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and my breath was taken away. I saw them working on it last year and for some reason I thought that it was closer to Ohio Drive. Instead it sits along the water just as the FDR Memorial.
The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial has been my absolute favorite memorial. As I walked through the FDR Memorial in no real anticipation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial being anything like it, I began to say to myself, I hope that we get to read Martin Luther King Jr’s words again, just as we do here.
It was amazing. His words were inscribed along a wall but what amazed me more was how his statue looked as a mountain. The back drop of the MLK Memorial was the Monument, and across from it, is the Lincoln Memorial.
You may wonder why I was not in great anticipation. I thought that the memorial was a statue, like just a statue. I did not realize the magnitude of this creation and I am so proud of those who pressed their way past the nay-sayers and non-believers, to inspire us to realize our own dreams as we are reminded by his.
For a black man to be the leader of the free world (Barack Obama), another black man to raise $120 Million with other black people, for a memorial of a black man is creating in me a peace that really does pass all understanding. This is a testimony of how free we really are, whether some people want to remain in bondage or not.
I was met with such admiration and deep liberation from the memorial. You can claim that this has nothing to do with racism but I disagree completely. People are murmuring with different opinions but here’s what I learned from one of my favorite books, The Tipping Point, we really do respond to what we see.
We see negative in the news, we are influenced by it. I wish I had a son to take to this memorial so that he could see a black man perfectly aligned with the Monument and Lincoln Memorials and worth $120 Million to say the least. This is world-changing and no one will ever be the same.
The only issue that I had with the memorial from the beginning, which made me feel some-kind-of-way about it, was that a Chinese Sculptor built it. African-Americans built most of DC, and many important landmarks. I just thought it would be powerful if we built this, as an honorable tribute. On the other hand, I’m feeling that dwelling on this issue may be sensationalized. Martin asked that we sit at the table of brotherhood, and what greater example than having people of different backgrounds to build his memorial.
Gerald C. Rivers is an actor, inspirational speaker, master drummer and voice of Dr. King. He has appeared on commercials as a voice over and flew in from Los Angeles to make sure that he did not miss this moment. I heard this speech coming from King and I thought it to be a recorded speech that everyone gathered around to listen to, however, no one moved! It was not Dr. King at all. There was no recording, it was Mr. Rivers, who upon my personal request did an entire speech for me in his interpretive Dr. King voice. You will not get this footage anywhere else.
And, Timothy Roberts who is a mentor with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Campus in Cleveland Ohio, talked to me about a unique all boys African-American program that instill leadership and encourages achievement. I got a word with him and here’s what he shared. (Watch Video)
It was a pleasure to take this unexpected tour today. I feel like everything happened as it was supposed to, although the people who chose to postpone it may not feel that way now because of just how beautiful it is today.
I am forever grateful for this opportunity and I thank you for letting me share this mini-documentary of my experience with you.
In closing, there are many people who were fearful of the Hurricane, especially after the Earthquake, but there’s something that always resonates with my soul about water. Water is a representation of the holy spirit, and rain is a representation of Harvest Time. While some may not agree with my calmness during the storm, I just believe that the rain had to come before the sun could come out as brightly and as breathtaking as the memorial on Sunday. The wind was just right, almost like God himself was breathing into the earth.
I pray for you, that both the rain, and the sun, and the harvest of greatness that released itself into the earth on Sunday was the beginning of Harvest for many who have been tortured by the circumstances of yesterday. We’ll let faith, the example of Dr. King, and the rain be our hope, which literally means expectation, for tomorrow. In the words of Kirk Franklin, “There’s gonna be a brighter day.” It would seem that the day has arrived but some of us are aware of the nature of God, that we experience Glory, to Glory, to Glory.
I am so impressed to keep the resilience that I started with, to drag my entire body through the stomping feet of the crowd and touch the hem of a garment that would make me whole. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is not about the man himself, as God, but about being the mountain of hope, and the example to a body of Peoples, and an influence to one body of people in particular that we are the Americans now. We are the change that we want to see. We don’t have to look anywhere but up, at the memorial and in our prayer closet. This sculpture brings you to silence, to a place of peace. And after reflection, to a place of intense exhilaration and celebration. We know that the greatest that is within us can indeed change the world.
Here’s Martin Luther King’s famous quote about a Measure of a Man:
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