Civil Rights Memorial

The Civil Rights Memorial is an American memorial in Montgomery, Alabama created by Maya Lin. The names of 41 people are inscribed on the granite fountain as martyrs who were killed in the civil rights movement. 

Design

The names included in the memorial belong to those who were killed between 1954 and 1968. Those dates were chosen because in 1954 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in schools was unlawful and 1968 is the year of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The monument was created by Maya Lin, who is best known for creating the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Civil Rights Memorial was dedicated in 1989.

The concept of Lin’s design is based on the soothing and healing effect of water. It was inspired by a passage from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech “…we will not be satisfied “until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream…” The quotation in the passage, which is inscribed on the memorial, is a direct paraphrase of Amos 5:24, as translated in the American Standard Version of the Bible. The memorial is a fountain in the form of an asymmetric inverted stone cone. A film of water flows over the base of the cone, which contains the 41 names included. It is possible to touch the smooth film of water and to alter it temporarily, which quickly returns to smoothness. As such, the memorial represents the aspirations of the civil rights movement to end legal racial segregation.

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