- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 8, 2003

Celebrities, lawmakers and major corporations kicked off a public-service ad campaign yesterday to raise money for a memorial to Martin Luther King on the Mall.The ads ask viewers to imagine what America would be like if Mr. King “never had a dream.”One ad shows TV weatherman Al Roker moving from treadmill to treadmill in a hotel exercise room. A sign is posted on each machine that says “white guests only.”Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry stars in another TV ad in which she is only allowed to eat in the back room of a restaurant designated “colored section.” These ads, along with others designed for radio, newspapers, magazines and the Internet, will be sent to 28,000 media outlets across the nation next week. The ads were presented during a press conference at the Capitol.The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation hopes the ads will raise both public and financial support for the monument, which is expected to cost $100 million.So far, $25 million has been raised. Federal law require the foundation to raise $66 million before it may break ground in December 2004.”We have struggled so hard to get to this point,” said Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, Maryland Democrat, who attended a press conference yesterday at the Capitol.A host of sponsors, including representatives from Tommy Hilfiger and General Motors, also attended the press conference to show support for the King memorial. The monument will be built on four acres along the Tidal Basin adjacent to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial and on a direct line between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. More than 900 design were submitted to the monument’s foundation from architects, landscape architects, students, sculptors and professors representing more than 52 countries. The final design was chosen from ROMA Design Group, an architectural firm in San Francisco.”In time, ground will be broken, blocks will be placed and a monument will be built to Martin Luther King,” said Rod Gillum, vice president of public affairs for General Motors.Former Rep. Constance A. Morella, Maryland Republican, introduced legislation in 1996 for the construction of the memorial. President Clinton signed the legislation July 16, 1998. Among those who spoke at yesterday’s event were Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican; House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican; and Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican.”We do not yet understand the great impact this monument will have on the minds of the tourists who will come,” Mr. Sarbanes said.Initially, the foundation had until Nov. 12 to complete a design, raise the money for the memorial and break ground. However, due to delays caused by the September 11 attacks, the deadline was extended to December 2004. “We have talked long enough about civil rights,” said Harry E. Johnson, president of the foundation spearheading the memorial’s construction. “Now it is time to start the next chapter.”

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