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. Ramtough

    You know what's really funny to me: Two or three ignorant racists in here who can't get a fish to bite in the arguement they are "trying" to start. Lol..pathetic. Ppl are so stupid nowadays that they can't even be a good racist. Lol..yall have fun now ya here.

    August 25, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • j

      its, "ya hear"...

      moron

      August 25, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • JT

      J,
      This one's for you...Takes a moron to know one, doesn't it?

      August 25, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. j

    He looks like Han Solo frozen in Carbonite in that picture...

    August 25, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mike Brooks

    Maybe that hurricane will blow that Chinese made piece of junk back "home". I mean, the face looks like someone that had been on Chairman Mao's Long March, not even remotely like an African American.

    August 25, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. paul1121

    you all know it is a black thing.

    August 25, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • yeltzin

      opportunity for looting would thin the crowds anyway

      August 25, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    @gung hoe:

    You are correct.
    I should have said:
    Trying to diminish what MLK has done and what he stands for is about par for the course from a lesser man.

    Thanks for pointing that out.

    August 25, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. s kel

    thanks bansey

    August 25, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TLL

    So when do we start hearing about the weather service being racist because of the hurricane delaying the ceremony?

    August 25, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Truf

    You know this hurricane is racist... There weren't any hurricanes that forced canceling when they were dedicating any memorials to white people... This is messed up!

    August 25, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. banasy©

    Quite welcome, s kel.

    August 25, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dad?

    What King died for is still going on dummy.

    August 25, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. s kel

    rizzo i could say another statue of that thief "columbus"? damn what the hell for?? Pasta day??? Lol, sounds pretty narrow minded huh?

    August 25, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. G S

    It looks nice, BUT maybe it should have been scullted in black marble or granite? he looks kind of pale

    August 25, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. s kel

    too bad a fool like is still going on august 25th.

    August 25, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. s kel

    fool like you.

    August 25, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. cpc65

    He looks p*ssed.

    August 25, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
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