Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, received authority in 1996 from the U.S. Congress to establish the memorial to the late civil-rights leader. The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation conducted a competition that invited designs for the memorial that is on the Tidal Basin of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Construction started in 2010 and culminated with dedication in August 2011, the anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
Lei Yixin of China sculpted the statue of Dr. King that adorns the memorial. The memorial is made of white granite mined in China. Critics have questioned why a black man would be depicted in white granite. The memorial features inscriptions of 14 quotes from Dr. King's writings, sermons and speeches. The quotes range from a 1955 speech that Dr. King delivered during the Montgomery bus boycott to a sermon he orated four days before an assassin killed him in 1967. One quote on the memorial that sums up Dr. King's non-violent resistance, from 1963, says: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial covers 4 acres at the address 1964 Independence Avenue, S.W., which commemorates the year Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The U.S. National Park Service oversees the memorial.