Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission

June 7, 2002

Commissionís Origin and Mission

Established by statute as a temporary legislative body in 1992, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission was elevated to a permanent legislative commission in 1997. The commissionís mission is to facilitate the continuation of Dr. Kingís work, the fulfillment of his dream, and perpetuation of his memory. To accomplish this mission, the commission is charged with many objectives, including the establishment of a mechanism in honor of Dr. King that promotes his philosophy and will help fulfill his goals.

Commissionís 2001 Activities

During the 2001 interim, the commission became a member of the King Centerís National Holiday Advisory Committee; awarded two higher education scholarships for the 2002-2003 academic year in Dr. Kingís name for qualified Virginia students (a merit-based scholarship at Longwood University and a need-based scholarship at Virginia State University); collaborated with and supported "Living the Dream," Inc., formerly known as "Community Learning Week," Inc., in its observance and commemoration of the annual celebration of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday; and conducted various activities to encourage the members of the General Assembly to read Dr. Kingís books, including distributing copies of Dr. Kingís book, Why We Canít Wait.The commissionís most important 2001 activity was to issue a request for proposals to the Commonwealthís institutions of higher education for a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Living History Memorial and Public Policy Center.

After proposals were submitted, the commission reviewed the applications and conducted site visits at various institutions of higher education in December 2001. Following the site visits, the commission evaluated the capabilities and unique characteristics of each institution and developed a configuration for the statewide cooperative development of the center with all responding institutions of higher education as participants having significant roles.

The commission had committed its unexpended funds as seed-money for this effort, with the goal of initiating the center as an independent, self-supporting project. However, as a result of the fiscal crisis, the unexpended funds of the commission and other legislative entities were placed in the legislative reversion account. After submitting a request for release of the funds, the commission was asked as a condition of releasing the unexpended money to provide a written plan describing how funds will be generated to support the center and stating the specific purposes for which the funds will be used. Approval of the plan must be obtained from the General Assemblyís Joint Rules Committee prior to release of the commissionís unexpended funds.

Commission Reorganization

The first meeting of the legislative interim of the commission was expedited to address the manner and details of the plan to generate future support for the center and other organizational concerns.

Six meetings are planned for the 2002 interim, with the first several meetings devoted to the discussion and planning of the continuation funding for the center and identification of the commissionís 2002 priorities. Some meetings will be focused on such issues as merit-based and need-based scholarships and other educational and diversity issues.

Fund-raising Mechanism

During this first meeting, the commission received its status report and a preliminary proposal for incorporating the center as a nonprofit entity with a board of trustees representing all participating institutions and a fund-raising mechanism. The commission also discussed the need to establish each institutionís duties and commitments for seeking extramural funding for the center and asked for an attachment listing potential funding sources. Incorporation of the center as a nonprofit would provide independence from the commission and complete freedom to seek private and grant funding. All institutional representatives were invited to comment orally at the meeting and in writing or orally at the next meeting. The institutional representatives declared their commitment to reviewing this idea and seeking input from their various administrators. The institutions that were designated as participants in the center were asked to meet in July and to report to the commission on their suggestions and reactions.


The Hon. Henry L. Marsh III

For information, contact:

Brenda H. Edwards
Norma E. Szakal
Division of Legislative Services


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