King Memorial Continues the Race for the Dream

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project is scheduled to be completed in 2008, but has yet to meet the necessary level of funding needed to complete and maintain the memorial. The memorial foundation has been reaching out to raise money in an assortment of ways to a variety of contributors.

So far the memorial foundation has raised more than $80 million from companies, colleges, individual, and events in hopes of keeping the dream alive.

“It is so very important for these people to come together in support of this memorial,” said Nia Dyes, a senior majoring in physics at Howard University in Washington, D.C. “This is in honor of a man who did so much for this country; the least we could do is show our appreciation.”

Last year, Prudential Financial Inc. donated $1 million to the memorial foundation and joined the long list of donors, called Dream Builders, who have contributed $1 million or more. These donors included General Motors Corp., Verizon, FedEx and Ford Motor Co.

The Radio City Music Hall hosted “Dream Concert” on Sept. 18 as another way to raise money for the memorial. Tickets were priced from $200 up to $1,000 and showcased entertainers such as Joss Stone, Stevie Wonder and Robin Thicke.

Keyshuna Carey, a sophomore majoring in business administration at Howard, said that events like the “Dream Concert” open the doors for a wide array of donors.

“When you have a diverse group of artists you appeal to a greater amount of people, which brings in more money,” Carey said. “The concert appealed to both older and younger audiences which is the type of balance you need.”

The foundation has also set up a college donation program called “Dream Keepers” to involve college students across the country in the building efforts. So far the top five schools that have raised the most money are Morehouse College, the University of Tennessee, the University of Alabama, Florida State University and Savannah State University.

“It is great that the foundation has reached out to college students for help, because it shows that we are perceived as being an important part of its construction,” Carey said. “I just wish Howard University was doing more to help and topped the list because we share the same city as the memorial and have a long standing history of being at the forefront.”

Congress passed Joint Resolutions in 1996 allowing Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. to construct a memorial in honor of King to be built in D.C. The King Memorial will be the first monument in honor of a black American on the National Mall.

The memorial project hosted a “Dream Dinner” on Nov. 14 at the National Constitution Center in Philadephia. The event aided in the fundraising efforts to reach the $100 million needed to cover construction and maintenance costs.

Updated on April 4, 2008