Finding Hope at the MLK Memorial

Finding Hope at the MLK Memorial

“Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope” is a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, which took place at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963.


Today, that quote is engraved on a sculpture erected in his memorial. Chinese artist Master Lei Yixin is responsible for the design of the 30-foot sculpture, which is composed of 159 granite blocks (shout out to the National Park Service for that info) and located off Independence Ave by the Tidal Basin. Standing next to Martin Luther King Jr.’s large stone impression makes you feel insignificant and inspired all at once.


MLK Memorial


This memorial, which was finished in 2011, is by far my favorite memorial in D.C. Don’t get me wrong, I love every monument that can be found along the National Mall (especially the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, which I’ve loved since I was a kid) but there is something so powerful and moving about the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial that I felt the need to write a blog post about it.


Around either side of the monument, there are walls inscribed with more of his famous quotes. I highly recommend going right before sunset to soak in the incredible sight of the Tidal Basin while taking in the message of the memorial.


“The ultimate measure of a man is not where is stands in moments of convenience and comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”


I believe many of us are drawn to D.C. out of our desire to impact on the world. D.C. is the heart of United States government, the starting point for many political movements, and often the center for change. However, as I think we all know (but especially those who are working in the public sphere of government), change is a slow and steady process.


On some days, this process is fine, and I can accept that there are necessary steps to go through. On other days, I just want wish I could go into our political system, into the lives of the people I see struggling, and fix everything with the push of a button. Sometimes the problems in the world just feel too large for me to make an impact upon.


“Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a better person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”


But after reading the words of wisdom from MLK, I feel more inspired than ever to go out in the world and make a difference. Even though our country seems so divided, this monument truly reminds me how crucial it is to go forward with the push for justice no matter how bleak it seems.


During my short time in D.C., I hope that I can at least do something, even though I can’t fix everything. This week, I'm going to volunteer orientation at Generation Hope, an organization that "selects teen mothers and teen fathers who have displayed academic achievement and a desire to go on to college in the Generation Hope Scholars Program."  They provide childcare, tutoring, and other resources to help students complete their education, and I can't wait to aid in their mission. I encourage anyone in the D.C. area (or those who will come to D.C. in the future) to check out the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial if you're in need of a little inspiration.


“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”


Read Kelsey's previous blog posts

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