MLK Memorial dedication draws thousands of attendees (PHOTOS)


Eldest living sister of Dr. King, Christine King Farris speaks to the crowd at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Dedication ceremony in Washington, DC, on October 16, 2011.


Mladen Antonov

President Barack Obama and performer Aretha Franklin are among the thousands of people who gathered Sunday to dedicate the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

The Associated Press reports that people began arriving at 5 a.m. to secure their spot at the four-hour ceremony. President Obama, who is to speak, and Michelle, Sasha and Malia arrived in the late morning, eliciting loud cheers.

The dedication ceremony was originally scheduled for August 28, but Hurricane Irene disrupted the plans.

The monument is located on the Tidal Basin in between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials and features a three-stone sculpture, an Inscription Wall and 182 cherry blossom trees. One of the three stones, named the Stone of Hope, depicts a likeness of King emerging from granite. Famed Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin created the 30-foot-tall granite sculpture.

It is the first monument on the National Mall to honor an African-American, reports the New York Times.

More from GlobalPost: Obama to speak at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial dedication

“I drive past the mall every day, and to see that Martin Luther King is now there with Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson and Roosevelt — that is powerful,” Lonnie Bunch, a founding director of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, told the Times.

The dedication is a big topic of discussion on Twitter Sunday as well, with popular hashtags and phrases: #MLKMemorial, Aretha Franklin, Pres Obama and Martin Luther King.

@HuggyLowdownDC writes:

#dedicatemlk #MLKMemorial How Profound is this Day The FIRST Black President giving a Speech Of the 1st Black Monument on the Mall!

@OMGhee_Desi writes:

The #MLKMEMORIAL is just a small reward for all of the phenomenal work of Dr. Martin Luther King. He is such a great and inspiring man=D