Office of the Secretary - U.S. Department of the Interior - - News Release
Date: Nov. 4, 2008
Contact: Shane Wolfe

Secretary Kempthorne Ensures Future of Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Project

Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today announced that he has extended the authority of the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Memorial Project Foundation, the entity authorized to plan and construct a memorial to honor Dr. King on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

"The Department of the Interior has strongly supported the efforts of the Foundation to memorialize Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose accomplishments as a champion of America's civil rights movement benefited the entire nation," Kempthorne wrote in a letter to Harry E. Johnson, Sr., the Foundation's president.

"For this reason, it gives me great pleasure to inform you of my decision to grant an administrative extension to the Foundation's authorization," Kempthorne wrote.

In 1996, pursuant to the Commemorative Works Act of 1986 (CWA), Congress authorized the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity to establish the memorial. The Fraternity established the Foundation to construct the memorial.

The CWA gives the Secretary of the Interior authority to grant the Foundation a one-time extension of up to three years, if the following conditions are met: (1) the Foundation has obtained final design approvals from the National Capital Planning Commission and the Commission of Fine Arts; (2) the Foundation has raised 75 percent of the estimated cost of the memorial. The Foundation on September 24, 2008 requested that the Secretary grant an extension.

The Foundation's Congressional authority expires on November 12, 2008. Last week, the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission met and unanimously voted that the Foundation had met the requirements and recommended that Secretary Kempthorne grant the one-time administrative extension. Secretary Kempthorne today granted the extension of the Foundation's authority through November 12, 2011.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. leader of the non-violent civil rights movement in the United States, delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the August 28, 1963 "March on Washington" on the National Mall. Earlier in his career, Dr. King led the Montgomery Bus Boycott and founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1964, Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize. Following his assassination in 1968, Dr. King was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a federal holiday in 1986.

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