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In fractured times, pondering Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘stone of hope’

The day the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated nearly 50 years ago, Loria Logan had just started grade school and was riding her bicycle outside her home in Chicago. Her mother called her inside with a sense of urgency in her voice.

In the living room, her mother had placed four chairs in front of the black-and-white television for herself and Logan’s father, Logan’s grandmother and Logan.

“I remember the tears flowing from their faces. I didn’t understand what was happening until my grandmother turned to me and told me, ‘He was the greatest. Pay attention to the television,’ ” said Logan, now 56, a nurse who was visiting the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington on Saturday from Chicago. “I’ll never forget it, the day he died.”

“To be here,” at the monument, she said, “is like a dream.”

But now, she said, progress made in race relations since King’s assassination in 1968 seems to be unraveling.

“At one point, we had reached really far,” Logan said. “By ’72, we were all one. . . . But now, we are going back to where it used to be, with the racist comments, the violence.”

Logan turned to look up at the massive pink granite monument carved with the inscription: “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope,” a line from King’s “I Have A Dream” speech given during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

A wind whipped across the frozen Tidal Basin, striking tourists, who snapped photos. Parents explained King’s legacy to their children. Two black boys in black hooded jackets stood in the shadow of the statue, holding clipboards and dutifully taking notes for a school assignment. Somebody had placed a funeral bouquet with red roses, red carnations and red…

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