Fifty years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., hundreds of community members dedicated a Memorial Tree Grove in his honor at the highest point of the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area in Baldwin Hills, overlooking downtown Los Angeles.
“Today, we meet Dr. King at the mountaintop,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “I believe once you experience the Memorial Tree Grove here at the very top of Hahn Park, you will find few other spaces that so peacefully and so exquisitely facilitate reflection in his honor.”
He added, “There is no other individual who has inspired us, challenged us, and motivated us to create a world filled with more civility, equality and dignity.”
Rev. James Lawson, who was with Dr. King on the day of his death, delivered the keynote speech at the dedication ceremony. Noting the lofty perch of the memorial for the civil rights icon, he said, “We’re trying to set a high mark, and our standards ought to be high, because to become a people of self governance, where the dignity of every human being is recognized, is a lofty and noble vision that requires our finest minds, our finest spirits, if it is to be accomplished.”
The 15,000-sq. ft. tree grove features an obelisk that evokes memories of the site where Dr. King delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The obelisk and the path leading up to it are inscribed with some of the civil rights icon’s most inspiring words.
With sweeping vistas of downtown Los Angeles, the tree grove will be a highlight of the 13-mile Park to Playa trail now under construction, slated to connect the beach to the Baldwin Hills by 2020.
The dedication ceremony, held to culminate the Season for Nonviolence, featured the Xipe Totec Aztec Dancers, World Stage Executive Director Dwight Trible, Shine Mawusi Drummers, and Now Art LA Flag Troupe.
Community leaders included City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, and leaders of the Baldwin Hills Conservancy and Mujeres de la Tierra; LA County Departments of Public Works, and Parks and Recreation; LA City Department of Water and Power; and the Empowerment Congress.
“Our department is honored that our urban jewel, Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, was chosen to showcase a beautiful memorial overlooking the city of Los Angeles that commemorates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” LA Department of Parks and Recreation Director John Wicker said.
Mujeres de la Tierra founder Irma Munoz added, “This magnificent memorial reflects the spirit and inspiration of the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”