This Sunday the Martin Luther King memorial officially opens, though beginning yesterday the grounds were open to the public. I am skeptical--it seems too grandiose--but I withhold judgment on the 30-foot sculpture until I get a chance to view it:
The design gave form to a line from Dr. King's "Dream" speech -- "With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope," said Mr. Jackson. In the memorial, he noted, Dr. King is seen emerging from the stone of hope. The two towering mounds set slightly behind him, forming a sort of passageway to the statue, are mountains of despair.
Some visitors said they did not like the fact that Dr. King was facing the Jefferson Memorial, not the Lincoln Memorial, but Mr. McNeil said he did not mind.
That Dr. King looks at Jefferson raises a few questions: Is he acknowledging Jefferson's good start? Is he reproaching him for the incompleteness of his achievement? Is he recognizing the thralldom of blacks to FDR's memorial and the Democratic party?
There is another angle on Dr. King that demands reflection:
A bizarre paradox in the new secular order is the celebration of Dr. King's birthday, a national holiday acclaimed as the heartbeat of articulated idealism in race relations, conscientiously observed in our schools, with, however, scant thought given to Dr. King's own faith.