Icons from every field convened Nov. 13 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where construction got under way for a monument honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., CNN reported.
President George W. Bush said that he was proud to dedicate the memorial to 'the lasting memory of a great man.' The monument will be erected near the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his 'I Have a Dream' speech in 1963.
Then-President Bill Clinton signed legislation that kicked off the project in 1996. Among other things, Clinton told the crowd that ' [ w ] hen the real battlefield is the human heart, civil disobedience works better than suicide bombings. Fighting your opponent with respect and reason works better than aspersion and attack.'
Members of the King family also attended the ceremony, along with people such as Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Condoleezza Rice, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Associated Press reported.
Project organizers have raised more than $65 million toward the $100 million cost of building and maintaining the King Memorial. They hope to have it completed by the spring of 2008, according to ABC News.
The King Memorial will be the first monument to a Black American on the mall.