Obama to speak at King memorial dedication in D.C.

President Obama will deliver remarks at the Aug. 28 dedication of the national memorial to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the District, the foundation building the memorial announced Thursday.

The foundation also announced that singers Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder, filmmaker George Lucas and actor Jamie Foxx, among others, will serve as celebrity co-chairs of the dedication.

In addition, members of the King family, as well as civil rights leaders including U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), former U.N. ambassador Andrew Young and the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, will have roles in the ceremonies, the foundation said.

The $120 million memorial, 14 years in the making, is almost finished. It features a 30-foot, 8-inch granite sculpture of King set amid the cherry trees on four acres on the northwest shore of the Tidal Basin.

The statue depicts King in a business suit with his arms folded, holding a scroll and gazing across the basin.

It is scheduled to be dedicated before a crowd of dignitaries and as many as 250,000 people on the 48th anniversary of the day King delivered his “I Have a Dream Speech” at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.

The King memorial is scheduled to open to the public at 11 a.m. Aug. 22. It will be “cloaked” Aug. 26 in preparation for its formal unveiling at 11 a.m. Aug. 28.

“The dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial has been long-awaited, and people from around the world are coming to experience this . . . historic moment,” said Harry E. Johnson Sr., president of the Washington, D.C., Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation. “We are excited to welcome them all.”

The foundation has scheduled five days of festivities leading up to the dedication. The Rev. Al Sharpton, former secretary of state Colin L. Powell, TV broadcaster Tom Brokaw and writer Maya Angelou are among those who will also participate, the foundation said.

An invitation-only dinner, “Honoring Global Leaders for Peace,” will kick off the festivities Aug. 24 at the National Building Museum and honor those who work for global peace and social equality.

A noon luncheon honoring past, present and future civil rights leaders is scheduled for Aug. 25 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. A four-day King expo at the convention center is set to open the same day.

A civil rights concert is scheduled for 8 p.m. Aug. 25 at the convention center, followed by an Aug. 26 luncheon there saluting women in the civil rights movement.

An interfaith prayer service is scheduled for Aug. 27 at Washington National Cathedral, along with a day-long youth event at the convention center. A gala/ pre-dedication dinner is set for Aug. 27, also at the convention center.

More details are at the foundation’s Web site, www.dedicatethedream.org.

Mike is a general assignment reporter who also covers Washington institutions and historical topics.
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