On Sunday (Oct. 16), President Barack Obama dedicated the Martin Luther King Memorial after touring the monument with First Lady Michelle Obama, their daughters, Sasha and Malia, and family members of Dr. King.
The event included speeches from noted individuals including Congressman John Lewis, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, among others. Musical and spoken tributes were also made by Mary Mary, Nikki Giovanni, Aretha Franklin (SEE PERFORMANCE VIDEO BELOW) and more.
“An earthquake and hurricane may have delayed this day, but it was a day not to be denied,” the president said, opening his dedication:
For this day, we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s return to the National Mall. In this place, he will stand for all time, among monuments to those who fathered this nation and those who defended it; a black preacher with no official rank or title who somehow gave voice to our deepest dreams and our most lasting ideals, a man who stirred our conscience and thereby helped make our union more perfect.
And Dr. King would be the first to remind us that this memorial is not for him alone. The movement of which he was a part depended on an entire generation of leaders. Many are here today, and for their service and their sacrifice, we owe them our everlasting gratitude. This is a monument to your collective achievement.
Pres. Obama also called on the nation to continue on course to create an “economic system is one in which everybody gets a fair shake and everybody does their fair share” as we “keep pushing for what ought to be, the America we ought to leave to our children, mindful that the hardships we face are nothing compared to those Dr. King and his fellow marchers faced 50 years ago“. View the president’s full speech below.
President Barack Obama’s MLK Memorial Dedication
Aretha Franklin Performs “Precious Lord”