SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS
STANFORD HISTORIAN ASSISTS DESIGN OF
| At that afternoon's march on the national Mall, Carson could not have
imagined that, years later, King's widow would ask him to publish the definitive
collection of the slain civil rights leader's papers.
And the Stanford historian could not have known that the cadences and metaphors King used in his 1963 speech to move a nation would inspire him, along with the ROMA Design Group of San Francisco, to produce the winning plan for a King memorial to be built on the Mall.
The proposal was chosen this month from more than 900 submitted from around the world to a jury of architects and designers. The concept incorporates water and stone, shadows and sunlight, words and images, to interpret King's message.
''That march made possible everything that's happened in my life,'' said Carson, director of the King Papers Project at Stanford. ''Now, to be drawn into a project that takes me back to where it all started . . . it really does feel good.''
ROMA, whose projects include the redevelopment of The Embarcadero, approached Carson to come up with the concept for a King memorial.
''From the beginning, my thought was that the memorial should emphasize King's ideas,'' Carson said. ''The physical look grew out of his words, especially the 'I Have a Dream' speech.''
Water will flow down a wall of the open-air memorial, symbolic of King'sfamous use of the biblical quote ''Justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.'' Quotes from his sermons and speeches will be inscribed in the wall.
The entry is made of stone, echoing King's belief that ''out of a mountain of despair is built a stone of hope,'' Carson said.
The memorial will be on a four-acre site on a curved bank of the Tidal Basin, between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials.
It will be the first memorial on the Mall to honor an African-American. Construction is set to begin in 2003.
Congress approved the memorial in 1996 after 12 years of effort by a national black fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha. The National Capital Planning Commission approved the site for the memorial last year. It is not yet known how much the memorial will cost.
''It was just an idea for so long, but now it's beginning to take shape and form,'' said Adrian Wallace, president of the board of directors of the foundation overseeing the memorial project. He is also an Alpha Phi Alpha member.
But the design still must undergo scrutiny by several government agencies.
''It will still be a struggle,'' Carson said, noting that other Mall memorial projects have gotten bogged down in controversy and red tape.
Carson, who has been at Stanford since 1974, was asked in 1985 by King's widow, Coretta Scott King, to edit and publish King's papers.
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