The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial has endured a battery of setbacks since its conception. In 2001, King’s children demanded payment for use of their father’s name and likeness (which prompted King biographer David Garrow to chastise the family for its “profiteering”). There were squabbles over the ethnicity of the monument’s sculptor, Lei Yixin. Then the National Park Service and the National Capital Planning Commission deadlocked over the placement of bollards intended to protect the 30-foot structure from potential terrorist attacks. But on Sunday, the 48th anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the memorial—which opened to the public this past week—finally gets dedicated. Its significance is not lost on the DMV hip-hop community: Substantial, Laelo Hood, Awthentik, and funk/hip-hop group Violet Says 5 (pictured)—as well as New York–based MC Mr. Cheeks—hit the stage tonight for a dedication party hosted by Biz Markie. King’s dream may still not be fully realized, and the DMV rap scene still struggles for cohesion—but at least a few MCs are taking steps toward unity.
The concert takes place at 7 p.m. at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $12.