The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial opened to the public Monday on the National Mall in Washington.
More than 25 years and $120 million in the making, the 30-foot statue honors the iconic figure of the U.S. Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. King is the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
Assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tenn., King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a federal holiday in 1986.
Situated about half-way between the Jefferson Memorial, on one side of the Tidal Basin, and the Lincoln Memorial, to the northwest, it's the first monument on the National Mall to a person who was not a U.S. president and also the first memorial that doesn't commemorate a war.
The memorial will be formally dedicated on Sunday, Aug. 28, on the 48th anniversary of King's I Have a Dream speech during his historic March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak at the dedication ceremonies.
Sculptor Lei Yixin's goal was to have the monument parallel King's struggle: visitors must walk through the Mountain of Despair portion of the monument before they get to the 30-foot Stone of Hope and King's monument, which also contains many of the civil right's leaders eloquent quotes carved in the stone.