My first impression of the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial sculpture was of Han Solo frozen in carbonite from the movie “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.”
Had King been carved out of black granite instead of white, the image of him being shipped off to Jabba the Hutt would have been impossible to get out of my head.
“If we’d used black granite we would not have been able to see him at night,” Ed Jackson Jr., executive architect of the King memorial project explained to me. “We thought this through.”
King is depicted as emerging from a “Stone of Hope,” the enormity of his legacy as a civil rights leader captured in a 30-foot-tall colossus. The figure is the centerpiece of a four-acre memorial situated along the Tidal Basin between the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials.
“It took my breath away the first time I saw it,” Jackson said. “I’ve seen numerous individuals brought to tears when they see it for the first time.”