An American Editor

January 18, 2011

MLK and His Memorial

Hopefully, in August 2011, on the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the memorial to him on the National Mall in Washington, DC, will be dedicated. I grew up under MLK’s influence, and I think he is one of the greatest Americans ever to be born. His memorial and its placement on the National Mall is well deserved.

But there is one thing that does bother me about the memorial, and I think it would raise a protest from Dr. King were he able to so protest: It is being sculpted in China!

I know money is what makes the universe go round, but didn’t anyone think about this when deciding who would do the sculpting and foundry work? First, China is not a free society. The Martin Luther King’s of China are suppressed and serving long prison sentences. Tiananmen Square is China’s Selma-to-Montgomery March and the Chinese response to the protestors in Tiananmen Square is China’s equivalent of America’s Bloody Sunday (March 7, 1965) —  with a major difference: Our free press system guaranteed continuous coverage of the civil rights movement, whereas China has successfully tamped down coverage and celebration of Tiananmen Square. Would Dr. King have approved of such a repressive regime creating his memorial? Personally, I think not.

Second, and perhaps more important, wouldn’t Dr. King have wondered why American sculptors and foundries couldn’t have been found? After all, Dr. King sought to bring harmony to Americans of all races and creeds and probably would have viewed this project as another way to bring together Americans in a common cause.

I think having China create the memorial is an insult to Dr. King’s dream. Fortunately, this little tidbit of information will be forgotten quickly by visitors to his memorial and within minutes of the dedication the made-in-China label will have been consigned to the dustbin of little known historical facts.

Fortunately for America, Dr. King was not made in China.

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