H+A Travel: Martin Luther King, Jr. Nat’l Memorial

Our very own Jeremy Robertson recently took a trip down to the Washington, D.C. area where he had the opportunity to explore the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. Below is an excerpt from his experience – enjoy seeing this engaging landscape monument through Jeremy's eyes.

"The King Memorial is intended to be personally transformative for visitors, building a sense of commitment to the promise of positive chance and active citizenship."

MLK_memorial_1*image property of the National Park Service

'Over the Thanksgiving holiday my family and I visited the newly-opened memorial to Martin Luther King, located adjacent to the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The new monument's site lies along an axis linking the Jefferson and Lincoln monuments, making a strong visual connection between the high democratic ideals of the Founding Fathers and the great struggle to help achieve those ideals during the Civil War.

The monument has been an incredibly popular attraction since it's opening in late August, bringing in 8,000-10,000 visitors on peak days. When the throngs eventually subside, the peaceful tranquility of the design will be more easily felt. The curved geometry of the memorial, contrasting within the triangular shape of the site, embraces the Tidal Basin and frames views to the water.

The memorial was designed not as a single object but rather three main elements: a protective wall along the outer edge, the 'Mountain of Despair' against which King fought, and the 'Rock of Hope' he strived to be for all of us. Four fundamental themes recur throughought Dr. King's message and the memorial: justice, democracy, hope, and love. 

The long, curved granite outer wall creates a defined, peaceful space in which to contemplate the many inscriptions of MLK, Jr.'s lesser-known quotations. 


The Mountain of Despair represents everything standing in the way of equality and justice. An unseen force has pushed a large chunk of this barrier toward the Tidal Basin, evoking the feeling of 'victory borne from disappointment,' while allowing a powerful view across the water to the Jefferson Memorial. 

MLK_mountain_of_despair*image property of the National Park Service


Into this detached stone The Rock of Hope, a towering statue of Martin Luther King, Jr., has been carved.

This is the first monument on the Mall dedicated to an individual African American. The first ever devoted not to a President or war hero, but to a citizen activist for civil rights and peace. The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is a stunning tribute to one of America's greatest leaders.'

– Jeremy