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To be sure, the effort to build the memorial has endured its share of human struggles since brothers from the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, to which King also belonged, conceived the idea in 1984.

After President Clinton signed congressional legislation in 1996 proposing the establishment of a memorial in the District to honor King, organizers soon embarked on a tireless fundraising effort to cover the $120 million cost, paid mostly through corporate and private donations.

Still, the foundation reports being roughly $6 million short, in part because it reportedly had to pay the King family more than $700,000 for licensing rights.

The foundation also successfully fought in 1999 to have the memorial built along the Tidal Basin within the sight lines of the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials.

Other concerns have focused on the sculptor, Lei Yixin of China.

One argument was that organizers should have chosen a black American artist. Human rights activists said Mr. Lei produced numerous icons of communist leader Mao Zedong, while others said the stern-faced, arms-crossed likeness of King, in the so-called Stone of Hope, looks too confrontational and that the color of the imported granite mutes his blackness.

Still, the events leading up to the dedication of the memorial have brought people from across the county. President Obama, the county’s first black president, is expected to speak. And among those who committed to attend or perform are Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Jamie Foxx.