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More about the MLK Memorial in DC

Inscriptions on the Stone of Hope

"Out of the Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope" - 1964 "I Have a Dream Speech."

"I Was a Drum Major for Justice, Peace, and Righteousness." - February 1968 sermon at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Controversy: The "drum major" quote paraphrases King's actual words. What he actually said was, "If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter." Poet Maya Angelou, a consultant to the memorial, said the shortened quote misses King's point and downplayed MLK's humility. The memorial's chief architect said the full quotation was too long to fit its intended space.

Inscription Wall: The 14 quotes

"We are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs "down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream." - December 1955, Montgomery, Ala.

"Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in." - April 1959, Washington, D.C.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." - April 1963, Birmingham, Ala.

"True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice." - April 1963, Birmingham.

"We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." - August 1967, Atlanta.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." - 1963, "Strength to Love" book collection of MLK sermons.

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant." - December 1964, Oslo, Norway.

"I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits." - December 1964, Oslo.

"I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against it not in anger but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as a moral example of the world." - February 1967, Los Angeles.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." - February 1967, Los Angeles.

"Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies." - April 1967, New York.

"If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective." - December 1967, Atlanta.

"It is not enough to say "We must not wage war." It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but on the positive affirmation of peace." - December 1967, Atlanta.

Note: The inscriptions, not arranged chronologically at the memorial, were chosen to reflect key ideas of MLK. Among them are selections from his famed "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and his acceptance speech in Norway of the Nobel Peace Prize.

MLK Memorial timeline

April 4, 1968 - MLK assassinated in Memphis, Tenn.

1983 - Federal holiday enacted to honor MLK's birthday.

1986 - Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, to which King belonged, proposes memorial.

1998 - Congress allows Alpha Phil Alpha to build memorial with private funds.

2000 - Memorial site dedicated with bronze marker.

2006 - Memorial groundbreaking ceremony.

Aug. 28, 2011 - scheduled opening of memorial postponed due to Hurricane Irene.

Oct. 16, 2011 - Dedication, opening of memorial.

African Americans and the National Mall

The Capitol and White House were built with slave labor.

In 1939, black opera singer Marian Anderson was not allowed to perform at the Daughters of the American Revolution's Constitution Hall. The NAACP and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt responded by staging Anderson's concert at the Lincoln Memorial.

In 1947, President Harry Truman spoke at an NAACP demonstration at the Lincoln Memorial.

There were civil rights demonstrations at the Lincoln Memorial in 1957, '58 and '59.

On Aug. 28, 1963, MLK gave his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, a key moment in the civil rights struggle.

In 1995, the Million Man March held on and around the National Mall.

Nearby commemorations of African-Americans

Bust of MLK in the Capitol Rotunda.

Bust of A. Philip Randolph, in Union Station. Randolph (1889-1979) was a civil-rights and labor leader.

Sojourner Truth bust, Capitol Visitor Center. Truth (about 1797-1883) was an abolitionist and women's rights activist.

Emancipation Memorial, in Lincoln Park.

Statue of Mary McLeod Bethune, in Lincoln Park. Bethune (1875-1955) was an educator and civil rights activist.

Statue of Josh Gibson, in National Park. Gibson (1911-1947), a noted catcher in the Negro leagues, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

* Shaw Memorial, National Gallery of Art, on the National Mall between 3rd and 7th Streets at Constitution venue. Honors the black 54th Massachusetts Regiment of the Civil War. (See the 1989 movie "Glory").

* Negro Mother and Child" statue, in the basement courtyard of the Interior Department, C Street and 18th Street, NW.

"In the Spirit of Paul Robeson" statue, intersection of Georgia and Kansas avenues and Varnum Street. Robeson (1898-1976) was a concert singer, actor, athlete and political activist.

African American Civil War Memorial, 10th Street and U Street NW.

African American Civil War Memorial & Museum, across from the African Civil War Memorial, at 1925 Vermont Ave. Honors black free men and former slaves who fought in the conflict. Details: www.afroamcivilwar.org

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