King Memorial Gala Celebrates the Life of an Icon

King Memorial Gala Celebrates the Life of an Icon

Dignitaries and ordinary Americans celebrate Martin Luther King's legacy at a gala dinner.

Published October 16, 2011

A host of leaders from government, corporate America, the civil rights movement and ordinary Americans turned out Saturday night to honor the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. at a gala dinner held at the Washington Hilton Hotel before Sunday’s dedication of the King memorial.


White House advisor Valerie Jarrett recalled visiting the memorial with her daughters after the King memorial was open to the public in August, and the optimistic spirit imbued by the people gathered there from all races, ages and walks of life.


“They sang, they danced, they laughed, they quietly mouthed the words on the granite wall,” she said. “There was one quote that really struck me that day ... ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.’”


Jarrett joined President Obama and his family for another visit to the memorial Friday, where they came upon two other families still lingering at the site who were thrilled and surprised to be greeted by the first family.


“The families introduced themselves to one another, there were some cellphones pulled out and there was laughter. But as they gathered in front of the monument of King, they all gazed up in silent awe and, in that moment, we were all just citizens paying our respect to a man who made the ultimate sacrifice to fight for a more just society.”

(Photo: AP/Jose Luis Magana)

Written by Joyce Jones


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