• The inspiration for the memorial design is a line from King’s “I Have A Dream” speech: “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”
• The memorial opened to the public on August 22, 2011, after more than two decades of planning, fund-raising, and construction.
The 4-acre site includes The Stone of Hope, an inspirational 30+ foot bas relief statue of the iconic Civil Rights leader as well as quotes from his famous speeches. The statue is the work of Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin who worked closely with Dr. King’s family to capture the mood of determination apparent in the pose of the statue. When it opened in 2011 it was the first National Mall statue to honor a citizen activist rather than a president or war hero(s).
The site also features a gift shop and restrooms. There is limited, temporary parking near the entrance to the Memorial.
The memorial is based on a central phrase from Dr. King’s 1963 I Have a Dream speech… “out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope”. Upon entering the Memorial from Independence Ave, SW, two gigantic stone pillars rise up from the plaza ahead – with a sizable gap between the pillars. The pillars signify the Mountain of Despair. A third pillar is visible in the distance to the far side of the gap. This third pillar is the Stone of Hope which is pushed forward out of the Mountain of Despair. The statue of Dr. King is embedded in the Stone of Hope – making his image and memory become fused with, and at the center of Hope.
The site of the memorial is approximately two blocks west of the World War II Memorial and six blocks east of the Lincoln Memorial where the I Have a Dream speech took place in 1963. It is an easy walk from the World War II, Lincoln Memorial or Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.
Nearby, at the foot of the memorial’s plaza along the Tidal Basin there are superb vistas of the entire Tidal Basin including views of the Cherry Trees reflected in the water. The Neo Classical Thomas Jefferson Memorial is situated on the other side of the Tidal Basin making this a spectacular site for photos.