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Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument

Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument:

The Symbolic Interactionism of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument
Paige Hopkins
Ivy Tech Community College

Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument

Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument:

The Symbolic Interactionism of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument
Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the most dominate leaders of the African American
Civil Rights Movements in the 1960s. He became a famous icon through his wonderful,
inspirational speeches and his purpose of non-violence. He led the famous march in 1963, in
Washington DC, where he gave his famous I Have A Dream speech, that is carved into the
national monument. That speech will live on in the lives of many for years and years to come.
The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. historically revolutionized the fight for social justices and
equality for all persons.
Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired thousands of people in the United States to take actions
against racism, to end poverty, and to have peace. He cared about the world, and everyone in it.
Martin Luther King was a bold man who did not care about what anyone said about him. In
December of 1955, he led the first non-violent protests of African Americans in a bus boycott in
Alabama. The boycott lasted for 382 days. He was arrested for organizing sit in demonstrations.
He was conscious of the bond between the struggle of the black people in the United States and
the wave of colonial revolutions in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In 1958, at the age 29,
he said, The determination of Negro Americans to win freedom from all forms of oppression
springs from the same deep longing that motivates oppressed peoples all over the world. The
rumblings of discontent in Asia and Africa are expressions of a quest for freedom and human
dignity by people who have long been the victims of colonialism and imperialism (The legacy
of Martin Luther King, 2007)

Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument

Slavery in America started in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. The slaves were brought into
the North American colony to help with crops such as tobacco. The invention of the cotton gin in
1793, symbolized the importance of slavery to the Souths economy. By the mid-19th century,
Americas westward expanded along with a growing movement in the North. Though the Union
victory freed the nations 4 million slaves, the legacy of slavery continued to influence American
history, from the years of Reconstruction which was in 1865-77 the civil rights movement
emerged in the 1960s, a century after emancipation (Slavery in America, 2009).
Slavery ended in the late 19th century, but racism still carried on years after that. Blacks
were still segregated. They were forced to use separate bathrooms, schools, and churches. They
suffered discrimination through employment and housing, and also had troubles with voting. For
years, civil rights activists have been fighting for equality for all Americans. Martin Luther King,
Jr. seen that there could be a possible plan for white and black citizens could come together and
be equal, so he joined in the fight for civil rights for African Americans.
On 4 April 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King was shot dead in Memphis, Tennessee, where
he planned to lead a protest march. The powerful voice of Dr. King was silenced, but almost fifty
years later, his ideas are still a source of inspiration for people who seek peace and justice. Every
year it marks Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a United States holiday for justice.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed of a world with equality for all. Today, his dream
lives on at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC. It is opened to the public,
and the newest memorial on the National Mall is the fourth to honor a non-president and the first
to honor a man of color. The memorial was designed as a lasting tribute to Dr. Martin Luther
Kings, legacy and will forever serve as a monument to the freedom, opportunity and justice for

Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument

which he stood. It has so much historical culture and heritage to it. The I Have a Dream speech
is carved into the rock of the stone of Hope. The monument was designed by the man named Lei
Yixin. The monument has been opened to the public since 2011. Since those years, it has been
viewed by over 5 million visitors. It is also open for 24 hours a day.
The vision to build a national memorial for Martin Luther King Jr. was conceived in 1984
by Alpha Phi Alpha, the African-American fraternity of which King was a member. Congress
authorized the memorial in 1996, and two years later the Alphas set up a foundation to manage
fundraising. This came out to be $120 million worth and in design. Johnson said, "We didn't
want it to just be a monument or a statue, but a living memorial. It was important that it tell a
story, so that people could walk through and read the words of Dr. King and have those words
still have relevance today." (Gordy, 2011).
By 1999 the foundation launched an international design competition. The call yielded
more than 900 entries from 52 countries. There they met Lei Yixin of China, who they decided
that was the person they wanted. One of a small group of artists designated as master sculptors in
his country, Lei had already carved more than 150 large public statues. "Readily I could see that I
was standing before someone with exceptional talent," said Jackson, who was also impressed by
Lei's experience and confidence in carving stone on a monumental scale. "I didn't say good; I
didn't say great. I said exceptional", said Jackson (Gordy, 2011).
The centerpiece of the memorial is a 30-foot statue of Dr. King. His likeness is carved
into the Stone of Hope, which emerges powerfully from two large boulders. The two boulders
represent the Mountain of Despair. The boulders are split in half to give way to the Stone of
Hope, which appears to have been thrust forward toward the horizon in a great monolithic

Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument

struggle. The Stone of Hope and the Mountain of Despair together represent the words from Dr.
Kings history-making "I Have a Dream" speech. On the visible side of the Stone of Hope, the
text from Dr. Martin Luther Kings famed 1963, speech is cut into the rock: "Out of the mountain
of despair, a stone of hope." Every visitor enters through the Mountain of Despair and tours the
memorial as if moving through the struggle that Dr. King faced during his life. The solitary Stone
of Hope stands proudly in the plaza, where the civil rights leader gazes over the Tidal Basin
toward the horizon, forever encouraging all citizens to strive for justice and equality (Fighting
for Equal Rights, 2012).
Symbolic Interactionism a sociological perspective that is influential in many areas of the
sociological discipline (Symbolic Theory 2009). It is used by influencing others on what Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr did for African Americans. Martin Luther King, Jr fought for what he
believed in. The Monument shows that even though he is dead, his symbolic meaning will live

Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument


Gordy, C. (n.d.). Martin Luther King Memorial: The Story Behind the Monument. Retrieve
December 2, 2015, from
Martin Luther King, Jr: Fighting for Equal Rights in America. (n.d.). Retrieved December 2,
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Slavery in America. (n.d.). Retrieved December 2, 2015, from
The legacy of Martin Luther King: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. (2007,
March 25). Retrieved December 2, 2015, from
What Is Symbolic Interaction Theory? (n.d.). Retrieved December 2, 2015, from