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Dedication of Martin Luther King Jr. bust

Dedication of Martin Luther King Jr. bust

Jan. 16, 1986: Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King Jr., lower right, gazes up at a 3-foot tall bronze bust of her late husband, after the unveiling ceremony in the Capitol.

Los Angeles Times staff writer Lou Fintor reported the next morning:

WASHINGTON–A bust of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who gave his life “transforming dreams into realities,” now stands in the Capitol Rotunda as a permanent reminder “of our moral obligation to civil rights,” King’s widow said Thursday in the emotionally charged unveiling ceremony.

Strong applause from more than 1,000 people echoed under the Capitol’s great dome as Coretta Scott King, surrounded by sculptures of Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln, dedicated the three-foot solid bronze bust of the slain civil rights leader….

The unveiling ceremony was part of a weeklong, nationwide series of commemorative events that will climax Monday when Americans observe the first official national holiday devoted to a black leader.

Flanked by her four grown children, Mrs. King spoke with a slow, steady voice while describing an America whose “greatest strength is in its pluralism and respect for all people.”

Of her husband, who was assassinated in 1968, she declared: “He was our friend, our father, our brother and our leader.”

In 1963, exactly 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation took effect, Martin Luther King Jr. faced the same Rotunda from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and told the 250,000 people assembled on the Mall that he had a dream that Americans would overcome racism and unite when “all Americans will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

This photo by Los Angeles Times staff photographer Bernie Boston was the Page One lead art in the Jan. 17, 1986 Los Angeles Times. In 1987, this photo was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in the Spot News Photography category.

Bernie Boston passed away in 2008. Link to his Los Angeles Times obituary.

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