Skip to content

Martin Luther King Tribute Rescheduled, but Certain Things Need to Happen First

Organizers for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Dedication announced that the ceremony has been rescheduled for mid-October. However, before the ceremony convenes and the throngs migrate to the National Mall — again — there should be certain requisites in place.

The celebrated affair was scheduled to take place on Aug. 28, 2011, the 48th anniversary of his “I Have a Dream Speech” in 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. But many events were postponed or cancelled during the King Memorial Dedication Week because of a Virginia-based earthquake followed by Hurricane Irene, both of which cut a wide swath of disturbance and destruction across the Eastern part of the United States. Executive architect Ed Jackson Jr. mentioned to the media that the MLK ceremony will now take place on Oct. 16. A more formal announcement to the media is expected to take place in the near future.

In the interim, there are several things that should be required to happen: First, the extremely embarrassing MLK Memorial debt should be reconciled by then. It was reported widely that the memorial is still $5 million in arrears on the $120 million price tag to construct the memorial. African Americans as a whole, and wealthy African Americans in particular, should shoulder the burden of the balance.

Secondly, Dexter King, the youngest son and the heir who most resembles his famous father, should be front and center at the ceremony. The company that Dexter King is charge of, Intellectual Properties Inc., received a hefty $800,000 sum to allow the organizers of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial to use Dr. King’s famous quotes. The words and papers of King have been a cash cow to the civil right leader’s offspring. Yet, Dexter King has been conspicuously absent from several high-profile even in honor of his father, including the 40th anniversary commemoration of his death in Memphis, Tenn., in 2008 and was a no-show in Washington D.C. last month. If Dexter can profit from the memorial, he should at least appear alongside siblings Rev. Bernice King, Martin Luther King III and aunt Christine King Ferris, Dr. King’s sole surviving sibling.

The president needs to continue to exemplify boldness and apply pressure points in getting the Republican-led Congress to pass the jobs bill quickly, and one that has teeth and the ability to bring about concrete changes to the abominable unemployment rate among all Americans, but particularly the black community. Equality and jobs were two of the pressing issues that King lived and died for.

Obama, the political heir to King’s legacy, was expected to speak at the original event and has indicated that he will do so on the new date. Ironically, Oct. 16 will be the 16th anniversary of the Million Man March on National Mall.

— terry shropshire