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Visiting the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC
The national memorial to America’s greatest Civil Rights Movement leader stands between the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials.
What is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and where is it?
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is situated on a four-acre site along the National Mall's Tidal Basin, adjacent to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial and shares a direct line of sight between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. Its official address is 1964 Independence Avenue SW, in honor of the Civl Rights Act of 1964, a landmark legislation in which King played an important role.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the most prominent leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, becoming an icon through his incredible speeches and his use of nonviolent resistance. He led the famous March on Washington in 1963, where he gave his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Opened to the public in 2011, the memorial is the fourth in Washington, DC to honor a non-president and the first to honor a man of color. The site was designed as a lasting tribute to Dr. King’s legacy and will forever serve as a monument to the freedom, opportunity and justice for which he stood.
The most convenient way to reach the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is by Metrobus or Metro. If traveling by bus, use the 32, 34 or 36 Metrobus routes. The closest Metro stop is Smithsonian, on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines. Of course, the memorial is in very close proximity to the other memorials surrounding the Tidal Basin.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is no fee to visit. National Park Service rangers are on site to answer questions from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Interpretive programs are available throughout the day and upon request.
What will I see at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial?
The centerpiece of the memorial is a 30-foot statue of Dr. King, featuring his likeness carved into the Stone of Hope, which emerges powerfully from two large boulders, known as the Mountain of Despair. Together, they represent soul-stirring words from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Text from this speech is cut sharply into the rock of the Stone: “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”
Visitors enter through the Mountain of Despair and tour the memorial as if moving through the struggles that Dr. King faced during his life. Visitors end in the open freedom of the plaza. The solitary Stone of Hope stands proudly, depicting the civil rights leader gazing over the Tidal Basin towards the horizon, forever encouraging all citizens to strive for justice and equality.
Surrounding the statue of Dr. King is a 450-foot long Inscription Wall, which features 14 quotes from King’s speeches, sermons and writings. Inscriptions were chosen by a special “Council of Historians,” which included Maya Angelou and Henry Louis Gates. Quotes were chosen with Dr. King’s four main principles in mind: justice, democracy, hope and love.