First Family visits King Memorial


3. Martin Luther King, Jr., a civil rights act...

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President Obama and family made an unannounced night-time visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

News photographers were not allowed during the first family’s tour.

The visit fulfilled a promise president Obama made five years ago. “I know that one of my daughters will ask, perhaps my youngest, will ask, “Daddy, why is this monument here? What did this man do?” Obama, then a senator representing Illinois, said during a 2006 groundbreaking ceremony for the memorial to the civil rights pioneer.

The president speaks at the formal dedication of the King Memorial on Sunday October 16, 2011.

According to the  Associated Press:

At a ground-breaking ceremony for the memorial five years ago, Obama, then a senator from Illinois, spoke about what it would be like to bring his daughters to see it.

“I know that one of my daughters will ask, perhaps my youngest, will ask, “Daddy, why is this monument here? What did this man do?” Obama said.

The young senator is now president, and the King memorial is complete, having opened to the public in August. On Sunday, the country’s first black president will be a featured speaker at the dedication ceremony …

… Obama will speak in front of a 30-foot sculpture of King, arms crossed, looking out into the horizon. The civil rights leader appears to emerge from a stone extracted from a mountain. The monument’s design was inspired by a line from the famous 1963 “Dream” speech delivered during the March on Washington in 1963: “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”

Situated between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, King’s is the first monument on the National Mall honoring a black leader.

Obama was  6 years old when Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn. But he has often talked about the influence King’s life, particularly his commitment to public service, has had on him.

In a 2009 newspaper editorial written just days before his inauguration, Obama wrote that King “lived his life as a servant to others,” and urged Americans to follow his example and find ways to enrich people’s lives in their communities and across the country.

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