Hurricane Irene threatened the Nation’s Capital and caused organizers to postpone the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial dedication on the National Mall this weekend; which would have been a way of paying tribute to the civil rights leader on the 48th anniversary of his “I Have a Dream” speech.

250,000 people were expected to attend. President Barack Obama was one of the scheduled speakers, and organizers were in the process of setting up a stage and chairs beside the King memorial, which sits on a 4-acre waterfront site in the nation’s capital.

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Harry Johnson, the president of the foundation that built the memorial, announced at a hastily called news conference Thursday evening that the dedication will be postponed until September or October.

The centerpiece of the memorial is a 30-foot (9-meter) sculpture of King by Chinese artist Lei Yixin. King, whose “Dream” speech during the March on Washington galvanized the civil rights movement, appears to emerge from a stone carved out of a mountain. The memorial also includes a 450-foot (137-meter)-long granite wall inscribed with 14 quotations from King’s speeches and writings.

The sculpture depicts King with a stern, enigmatic gaze, wearing a jacket and tie, his arms folded and clutching papers in his left hand.

King, who was slain in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1968, is the first person of color to be honored with a memorial on the Mall. It is surrounded by memorials to presidents — Thomas Jefferson to the southeast, Abraham Lincoln to the northwest, Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the south.


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