United Methodist raises money for King memorial
1/14/2003 News media contact: Tim Tanton · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.
By Melissa Lauber*WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Anita Wamble, of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project, has a dream.
a member of Grace United Methodist Church in Fort Washington, Md.,
dreams of a time when her two children can visit a monument to the civil
rights leader on the National Mall in Washington. As the project's
major gift officer, she is working to make that $100 million dream a
reality. This year will be a pivotal time in her efforts.
1988, Congress approved plans developed by the Alpha Phi Alpha
Fraternity for the monument, which will be situated on a four-acre site
along the Tidal Basin. The site is adjacent to the Franklin D. Roosevelt
Memorial and in a direct line between the Lincoln and Jefferson
Wamble calls it a "visual line of leadership" that
links the principles of freedom from the founding fathers through the
civil rights movement. The monument would be the first on the National
Mall honoring an individual other than a president and the first to pay
tribute to an African American, she said.
The design, created by
the ROMA Design Group architectural firm of San Francisco, was selected
in 2000 in a bid that drew more than 900 submissions from 52 countries.
It is based on the themes of justice, democracy and hope and will use
water, stones and trees.
Hope is a theme that greatly appeals to
Wamble, a certified lay speaker and chairwoman of Christian education at
Grace United Methodist Church. She pointed out that the civil rights
movement was born and nurtured in pulpits.
King often spoke of
the "stone of hope" cast out of the "mountain of despair," she said.
Portions of King's sermons and speeches will be inscribed in the
glistening, smooth surfaces of a water wall. A carving of King will
appear as a part of the stone of hope. The carving will reveal King's
shape in a slow and artful way.
King's image will be seen
looking across the Tidal Basin, according to materials on the project's
Web site (http://www.mlkmemorial.org/). He will be "pointing with a
pencil back to his words in 'The Promissory Note' as if, having just
written these words, he is now standing vigil and awaiting the delivery
of the note."
King spoke these words in Washington in 1963: "When
the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the
Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a
promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was
the promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be
guaranteed the 'unalienable rights' of 'life, liberty and the pursuit of
In raising funds for the monument, Wamble feels that
she is, in some small way, helping to collect on this debt. She left
her job at the American Red Cross to raise funds, believing "there were
ideals of freedom involved in creating this touchstone of history."
today's economy, raising money for the project is not easy, she
admitted. To date, $25.4 million has been raised, and $50 million is
needed before ground is broken in November, Wamble said. By November
2006, all $100 million must be secured. Her task is to identify and work
with contributors who pledge gifts of more than $100,000.
raise $25 million by November, that's where my faith comes in," she
said. "Looking at the economics, one might say we can never do it. But
we need to look at it through eyes of faith. What man calls impossible,
God calls possible."
Raising the funds means contributing to
King's legacy, helping keep alive the message that all people are equal
in God's sight, Wamble said. It's especially important for her to share
this message with her children, she added.
Recent local surveys
indicate that 97 percent of children could identify Martin Luther King
Jr., Wamble said. However, 68 percent couldn't place him in the 1960s,
and one out of three couldn't identify him as a leader of the civil
On King's birthday, Wamble teaches the students
at her children's school about their history. It's important that they
know the shoulders of those they are standing on are wide, she said.
around the classroom, she noted white, black, Hispanic, Arab and Asian
children and those from other cultures learning together. That scene
would never have occurred in Wamble's childhood school in the 1970s.
This is part of King's dream coming true, and that dream needs a
tangible monument, according to Wamble.
"As a nation we learn that without one another we wouldn't be able to get through life."
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*Lauber is associate editor of the UMConnection newspaper in the Baltimore-Washington Conference.
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