Work Set to Begin This Spring on MLK Memorial

AP, January 9, 2008

Construction is slated to begin this spring on the long-planned Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall.

Work on the monument would come more than a year after a ceremonial groundbreaking held in November 2006. After a slow fundraising start, organizers have collected about $87 million of the $100 million budget and are anticipating some major financial announcements next month, said Harry Johnson, president and chief executive of the foundation overseeing the project, which will feature a massive granite carving bearing King’s likeness.

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As long as work starts by April or May as planned, he said, the project would still be on schedule for a 2009 opening. The foundation is now waiting for final permits from the National Park Service.

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The memorial will sit on four acres along the edge of the Tidal Basin, between the Jefferson Memorial and Lincoln Memorial, where the civil rights pioneer delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. It will feature stone carvings, a raised walkway and stone walls engraved with King’s quotes.

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Financed almost entirely with private money—mostly from corporations—the project has encountered controversy recently over the selection of a Chinese sculptor to handle the featured work.

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