WASHINGTON — Forty years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, Washington still remembers the history King made there.
Engraved on the steps below Abraham Lincoln’s statue are King’s four most famous words: “I have a dream,” spoken fifty years before on those very steps.
In 1963, he was one of the six main organizers of the March on Washington, a rally for civil rights for African-Americans.
More than 200,000 people participated in the march held on the National Mall.
It was during that rally that King delivered his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech.
During a pause in his speech, Mahalia Jackson, a gospel singer sitting behind King, called to him to tell them about his dream, which sparked the impromptu speech.
Further down the mall, along the basin of the Potomac, lies a memorial commemorating King’s mark on Washington and the impact he has had on American history.
“The theme of the memorial is ‘Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope,'” said John McCaskill, a park ranger.
The theme is taken from the words of his “I Have a Dream Speech.”
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was opened in 2011 to commemorate King and his vision of freedom, democracy and opportunity for all.
“It’s humbling to me, just realizing the power of the spoken word can inspire people to be better and do better,” McCaskill said.
As well as a statue of King, the memorial features a wall of quotes from some of his speeches, including one given at the National Cathedral four days before his death, in which he quoted the song, “We Shall Overcome.”
The National Park Service is currently featuring a tour called “Dr. King Comes to Washington” about King’s time in the city.