WASHINGTON – Organizers have set a new date in October to dedicate the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial after Hurricane Irene forced them to postpone the event in August, days before 250,000 people were expected to attend.
Ed Jackson Jr., the memorial’s executive architect, said Sunday it will now be dedicated Oct. 16 on the National Mall.
The dedication had been planned as the culmination of a week’s worth of events on Aug. 28, the 48th anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. But when Hurricane Irene swept through Washington with high winds and rain, organizers agreed to an indefinite postponement because of safety concerns.
President Barack Obama had been slated to speak in August and is now scheduled for the new date, Jackson said. Memorial foundation President Harry Johnson had been emphatic that the first black U.S. president should take part.
Oct. 16 will be the 16th anniversary of the Million Man March on the National Mall. The 1995 march was organized to galvanize black men to improve their lives and let their voices be heard.
King, who was slain in 1968 in Memphis, Tenn., is the first person of color to be honored with a memorial on the mall. It is surrounded by memorials to presidents – Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Thousands have already visited the site, including some who turned out the day the dedication was originally scheduled.