D.C. officials want city residents to be among the first visitors to the long-awaited Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial and to insist that what the civil rights leader “has done for our country must also be done for the residents of our nation’s capital.”
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to descend on the District in the final days of August for the dedication of the memorial along the Tidal Basin.
A week of events before the Aug. 28 dedication includes a D.C. Residents Day on Aug. 23 and a march for D.C. statehood on Aug. 27.
City residents frequently go out of their way to host visitors in the nation’s capital, “so it’s fitting that Washingtonians have a special day,” Mayor Vincent C. Gray said.
The mayor held a news briefing Wednesday to release details about the dedication and to tour the site, which still featured scaffolding near the sculpture and construction near a visitors’ center across the street from the memorial.
“Frankly, what better moment to seize than this one to further the cause of democracy in the city?” Mr. Gray said.
The granite memorial includes the “Mountain of Despair” and a “Stone of Hope” that features a sculpture of King looking out over the water. A semicircular wall is inscribed with some of King’s famous quotations.
The MLK Memorial Foundation has raised $112 million of the $120 million needed to complete the memorial, according to a biography of foundation CEO Harry E. Johnson Sr.
“That is as contemporary today as it was 45 years ago when he stated those profound words,” the mayor said. “And we need to use those words as an opportunity to continue to promote justice and equality in our city.”
Mrs. Norton, a nonvoting member of the U.S. House of Representatives, said Congress asks D.C. residents to obey its laws and then “tithes us to support the national government” without a vote on Capitol Hill.
“But I went south as a Washingtonian,” she said of her work in the 1960s. “And today my own city is singled out without a vote, standing alone.”
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Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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