ANNAPOLIS – Standing in front of the Thurgood Marshall Memorial here on the last day of Black History Month, Maryland legislators on Tuesday proposed a General Assembly resolution urging the state to help fund a memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. to be built on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial project, which received a $10 million pledge from Congress last year, is expected to cost $100 million. The resolution, introduced by Delegate Herman L. Taylor, D-Montgomery, not only asks Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to provide state funds to the memorial, but urges other states to provide financial support as well.
If the resolution is passed, Maryland will be the first state to support the project, Taylor said.
“We must showcase our support for this great American and his legacy and take the lead as the first state to stand behind the National Memorial Project Foundation and their noble endeavor,” Taylor said.
The memorial will be the first to celebrate a black person – and the first dedicated to a non-president – on the National Mall.
“Now, for the very first time in human history, this nation will witness one of the greatest men of all time being memorialized in his rightful place of honor on the National Mall,” Taylor said, “the place where he delivered one of history’s greatest speeches to the world.”
Located on four acres of land bordering the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the memorial will stand between the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963.
Activists from Alpha Phi Alpha, a black fraternity of which King was a member, campaigned for the memorial beginning in 1984.
Delegate Keith E. Haynes, D-Baltimore, who is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha and is one of over 40 co-sponsors on Turner’s resolution, said the broad and diverse support of the resolution is indicative of King’s vision throughout the civil rights movement.
“He was a man who garnered broad support,” Haynes said. “It wasn’t about one particular race of people or one particular gender. It was about all people and all races and all genders.”
The chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, Delegate Rudolph C. Cane, D-Dorchester and Wicomico, said he will contact the Congressional Black Caucus to “make sure they will assist us also in the financing of this project.” Organizers hope to break ground on the memorial this fall.