November 14, 2006 – A crown of nearly 5,000 gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. this week to break ground for a memorial honoring legendary civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. The long overdue memorial, set to open in the spring of 2008, will be the first on the Mall to honor an African-American and the first that does not memorialize a president or war hero.
Former president Bill Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and a host of others joined many of King’s fellow civil rights activists to speak of King’s legacy and the importance of spreading his message of racial equality and social justice. They also stressed that there is much more that needs to be done to continue King’s work.
Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau just a day after the groundbreaking event shows racial disparities in income, education and home ownership still persist today. The report found white households had incomes two-thirds higher than blacks and 40 percent higher than Hispanics last year.
“Martin Luther King, Jr. worked tirelessly for social justice, racial equality and basic human rights,” said IAM Executive Assistant Diane Babineaux. “This memorial will serve as a poignant reminder that we have yet to reach the level of social equality he dreamed of.”