Dedication of King memorial postponed due to Irene
The site of the 30-foot granite sculpture opened to the public Monday.
August 25th, 2011
09:15 PM ET

Dedication of King memorial postponed due to Irene

[Updated at 9:15 p.m. ET] Sunday's dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington has been postponed because of Hurricane Irene's expected advance on the U.S. East Coast, an organizer said Thursday evening.

Harry Johnson Sr., head of the memorial's foundation, said that the last event of a series that had been planned for the weekend would be a national prayer service on Saturday. The dedication of the memorial will be moved to a still undetermined date in September or October, he said.

Johnson and other organizers had said five hours earlier that the dedication would go forward as scheduled. But Thursday evening, Johnson told reporters that foundation officials changed their mind, deciding to postpone the event out of concern for visitors’ safety, after consulting with officials and forecasters tracking the storm.

"The obvious reason why we’re making this announcement is to allow those folks who have not yet travelled here the opportunity not to come in harm's way," Johnson said. "We're also offering up the opportunity for those who are here, that if they want to try to leave, they can leave before the weather gets bad on Saturday."

"I remained optimistic all day. But Mother Nature is Mother Nature," Johnson added.

President Barack Obama was scheduled to dedicate the site, near Washington's Tidal Basin between the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial, in a ceremony starting at 11 a.m. Sunday.

The National Hurricane Center on Thursday issued a hurricane warning for coastal North Carolina, saying that Irene - a Category 3 storm pounding the Bahamas on Thursday afternoon - could be near North Carolina on Saturday.

A tropical storm watch has been issued for Washington, according to the National Weather Service, which said the storm could affect the area with tropical-storm force winds late Saturday through early Sunday.

The governors of Virginia, Maryland and three other states have declared emergencies ahead of the storm.

The site of the 30-foot granite sculpture of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. opened to the public Monday. Groundbreaking took place in November 2006, and Sunday's planned dedication is timed with the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington, where King delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech.

Weather permitting, the memorial site will be open Friday from noon to 10 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon, Johnson said.

- CNN's Paul Courson and the CNN Wire Staff contributed to this report.

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soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. Um...but

    It's not finished yet. They still have to carve away the back half. Do the blacks in America only get enough budget to half complete the statue?

    August 25, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigEd

      Hate is corrosive to the soul. Jesus and Dr. King advocated non-violence toward people such as yourself. Please pray to your God for tolerance, a sense of peace, and the easing of the hateful racism that consumes you.

      August 25, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • JT

      Ignorant butt head, you are.

      August 25, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. lauging out loud

    Actually they still have to add his umpteen illegitimate children before it's finished.

    August 25, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dad?

    Wonder if any of King's illegitimate children will show.

    August 25, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yes, my illegitimate and ignorant child

      What can I do for you, my little ignorant child?

      August 25, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    Such disrespect from anonymous keyboarding losers.
    As is anyone of you could *compare*!
    On your best day, you couldn't come close.

    August 25, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    *if*

    August 25, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dad?

    Oprah could have a couple old-fart retired FBI guys who used to spy on MLK come on her show. "Yeah. I remember this one time...who?" MLK. We were talking about MLK. (audience chuckles) "Oh, yeah. Well, actually we were spying on King's lawyer who had some pinko-commie fa(old explicative)gs he was working with. We didn't intentionall go after King, it's just that he used his lawyers offices and even rooms in his house to hump-away. It got to where it was annoying, for everyone. Especially his followers who pretend this could never go on for so many years without them getting to gossip about it on some stupid talk show. "Ohhh K. On that thought..."

    August 25, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dad?

    The truth is never disrespectful. Political correctness can be, but not the truth. "What is truth" said Pontius Pilate to Jesus. The two of them didn't look at truth the same way either.

    August 25, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. banasy©

    Trying to diminish what MLK has done and what he stands for is about par for the course from lesser men.

    August 25, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. banasy©

    And lesser women too, of course.

    August 25, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. WHO CARES

    Will Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson claim racism now? Damn hurricane is named after a white lady. This is racism and we will not stand for this.

    August 25, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOL

      Pretty much what I was thinking.

      August 25, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. gung hoe

    Oh but my dear banasy But youve made a mistake WOW lesser yes Men NOPE thats where your incorrect

    August 25, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Infowarrior

    Way to make a hero for civil rights for all into a political story CNN. MLK loved all people, as do I. Stop trying to divide us for your own capital gain.

    August 25, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Irene

    Whatchoo talkin bout, WHO CARES?
    Dey name it afta ME!

    August 25, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. s kel

    i dont know august , but your sisters is going to have a baby, are you going to pay child support for your child shes having?? cant work at wallmart and just drink beer all day.

    August 25, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. rizzo

    another Martin luther King statue ? ,, geeeez

    August 25, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
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