Venezuela celebrates the recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with the memorial that will be inaugurated on August 28 on the National Mall, a landmark area in Washington, D.C. that pays tribute to the country's founding fathers and its history. For the first time ever, a memorial of this tireless advocate of social justice and equality will be erected in the outdoor national park located in the nation's capital, in an area previously reserved for presidents like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.
The web site of the national memorial, which includes a virtual tour of the site, highlights the importance of commemorating the life and work of Dr. King. The memorial seeks to honor his national and international contributions to world peace through non-violent social change
Dr. King fought to end discrimination against African-Americans, but also labored to end poverty and bring peace to the United States and to the world. While most famous for his efforts to extend civil rights to minority groups in the U.S., prior to his assassination he was working tirelessly to promote economic justice for the poor.
Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution has taken inspiration from the spirit of Dr. King’s work and words. President Hugo Chávez and his government have pursued dramatic political, economic and social change in Venezuela, and have done so in peace and in democracy. The words of Dr. King in his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech speak to the project underway in Venezuela: “I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.”
In 2004, a school in the coastal state of Vargas was named in honor of Dr. King. The same year, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Venezuela, a photographic exhibit highlighting Dr. King’s work was put on display in Venezuela’s National Library in Caracas. Both were overseen by the then Minister of Education, Culture and Sports Aristóbulo Istúriz – the first Afro-descendent to hold that post- , who is currently the Vice-President of the National Assembly.
Dr. King was a visionary and a revolutionary, and he continues to inspire and motivate ordinary people and their governments around the world. Just as he sought a country free from discrimination, poverty and war, Venezuela continues seeking a brighter future for its people and the world at large.
Press Office – Venezuelan Embassy to the U.S. / August 23, 2011
Photo: Charles Dharapak