Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development
This past Christmas our family traveled to visit my wife’s family for a short vacation in a town just outside of Washington, D.C. It was a wonderful time of talking, eating, playing board games, and just chilling out.
A highlight of the trip was our visit to see the monuments in our nation’s capital. However, mother nature put a hamper on our intentions. It was so wet and cold that we only saw two: the Lincoln Memorial and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. With five kids with us, who didn’t like the cold rain, our grand plan to see more sights was thwarted.
However, I did not want to leave the MLK Memorial as quickly as the others. It was such a peaceful place.
It’s theme was based on a line from Dr. King’s I Have A Dream speech …“Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” So, when you arrive you literally pass through a mountain of despair on the way to the stone of hope. There are two pieces of granite separated like a void which symbolizes the mountain of despair. Once you walk between them you see a 30-foot tall granite relief of Dr. King, who is depicted as the stone of hope. This was done to symbolically move us through the civil rights struggle as he did during his short life.
As we were leaving, I started to read the fourteen quotes from Dr. King’s speeches, sermons, and writings that were inscribed on a wall surrounding the memorial. This one especially hit home with me.
This quote was taken from a sermon in his book Strength to Love originally published in 1963 – 50 years ago. The book outlined why love will always overcome evil. It was the first volume of sermons by an African-American preacher widely available to a white audience, mostly written while in jail as a result of his role in peaceful demonstrations. At the age of 35, he was the youngest man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Sadly, he was assassinated on April 4, 1968 just a few months after his 39th birthday.
Dr. King’s message of love and tolerance is a gift. His powerful vision inspires me, and many others, in remembrance of him today.