WASHINGTON – The foundation working to build a memorial to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the Mall has raised a third of the $100 million in private donations needed and plans to begin construction in 2006.
The memorial would be the first tribute to an African American or any individual of color on the federal space reserved to honor the most important American historical figures. The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation Inc. has received $32.5 million from corporate and other private sponsors. It must raise an additional $68 million by next year to cover construction costs, foundation officials said.
Congress approved the memorial in 1996 and gave the foundation an extension in 2003 to raise funds for the groundbreaking, said Harry E. Johnson Sr., the group’s president. He said he is confident that the group will draw additional corporate sponsors this year and spread awareness among citizens to raise the funds by the deadline.
A campaign, “Build the Dream,” was developed to fund the project, which began as an idea among friends sitting around a kitchen table.
The federal holiday Monday will be observed with speeches, dinners and other commemorative events, and Johnson said the planned memorial would serve as a space where Americans could reflect on the history-changing deeds of the civil rights leader.
“Failure is not an option,” Johnson said. “We want to get this memorial up for the memory of Dr. King.”
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