Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Commission

August 22, 2002
September 16, 2002
October 24, 2002
November 15, 2002

Focused on its statutory mandate to establish a memorial in the Commonwealth to Dr. Martin Luther, King, Jr., the commission met in August and September to develop the plan for the King Living History and Public Policy Center required by the Joint Rules Committee as a condition of the release of the commission's unexpended funds. The unexpended funds represent the commission's frugality over the years to save seed money that will be used to generate grant and other non-state funds to support the center.

Development of the Center's Plan

In early August, representatives of the partner institutions convened at Virginia Commonwealth University to compose the initial draft of the plan. The meeting provided the partner institutions a better understanding of the interests and strengths of their colleagues; promoted the exchange of ideas regarding how the partner institutions can collaborate and assist the commission with its work; and fostered the development of a plan that, upon implementation, will enable the center to be organizationally and financially sustainable while making significant contributions to the Commonwealth.

Partner Institutions

Norfolk State University
Old Dominion University
University of Virginia
Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Regional Participants

Eastern Virginia Medical School
Hampton University
James Madison University
Virginia State University

The preliminary plan by the institutions was presented to the commission at its August 22 meeting. A subcommittee of the commission was appointed to refine the plan and to address ways for the commission to assist in raising private funds for the center. At the subcommittee's August 29 meeting, the chairman and vice-chairman committed to a personal, face-to-face campaign of Virginia's business community to secure financial support for the center. The Governor's assistance was also sought to secure private support from the technology industry to establish the center initially as a virtual center. Dialogue between the subcommittee members and the partner institutions during this meeting produced a budget estimate for yearly activities and a detailed approach to implementation of the center.

The commission developed a configuration for the center that is analogous to a consortium or institute, with the following institutions of higher education named as partners and regional participants in the center.

Virginia Commonwealth University has been designated as the home site and coordinator of the center. The collective assets of these institutions in areas relevant to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., equal or exceed those of any other state. The merger of these strengths and certain unique characteristics of each institution under a single structure provides the capabilities needed for a national public policy center. This configuration also provides the substructure to coalesce and maximize Virginia's efforts in scholarly research and fund development, make programs and resources of the center accessible to all Virginians, and facilitate the effective and efficient performance of the center's activities.

Implementation of the Center

The commission adopted the plan for the center on September 16, 2002. In accordance with the commission's decisions, the implementation of and funding for the center will proceed in four phases:

Phase I. Personnel and Support Services

Phase II. Creation of the Virtual Center

Phase III. Programs and Services

  • Public Education
  • Higher Education
  • Fellowship Program
  • Public Policy Analyses
  • Acquisition and Preservation
  • Comprehensive Database

Phase IV. Funding and Sustainability

  • Leveraging Funds
  • Solicitation of Private Sector Support
  • Solicitation of Foundation Support
  • Development of Revenue Streams
  • Federal Support
  • Sustainability

On October 24, 2002, the chairman reported that the Joint Rules Committee voted to re-submit the center's plan to the Budget Oversight Subcommittee for review and recommendations that would be reported on November 12, 2002. The commission also deliberated on (i) the effect of potential budget reductions on its unexpended funds and work, (ii) fund-raising strategies, (iii) the preliminary calendar of events of the Living the Dream, Inc. Board of Directors for the commemoration of the 2003 King Holiday, (iv) previous commission commemorative activities, (v) proposals for the commission's 2003 King Holiday observance, (vi) plans for the 2004 statewide conference on the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, (vii) budget alternatives, (viii) study initiatives for 2003 through 2005, and (ix) the effect of new legislative guidelines adopted by the Joint Rules Committee on the commission.

On November 15, 2002, the commission was briefed on community service and the need for and benefits of volunteerism by the director of Virginia Corps. Noting that Virginia Corps, the Governor's volunteerism program, exemplifies the King Holiday theme for 2003 -- "Remember * Celebrate * Act!" A Day On Not A Day Off! -- commission members were asked by the chairman to volunteer for community service programs in their respective localities. It was the consensus of the commission that it would collaborate with the Governor's office to emphasize community service during January 2003 and encourage the public, agency heads, elected officials, and the corporate community to volunteer for community service programs throughout the year.

Included in the chairman's status report was information regarding the first meeting of the Secretary of Public Safety's Task Force on Biased-Based Policing, the solicitation of private funds to support the center and the statewide conference in 2004, and the deferral of the Joint Rules Committee's Budget Oversight Subcommittee recommendations concerning the commission's unexpended funds and plan for the center until December 16, 2002.

Announced at the meeting was the appointment of Senator Henry L. Marsh, III and Delegate L. Preston Bryant, Jr., chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, to the King Center's National Holiday Advisory Committee in Atlanta. Further deliberations focused on the national King Center's 2003 King Holiday schedule of events, the commission's 2003 commemorative activities and coordination with other interested entities, plans for the 50th anniversary of the Brown decision, and the effect of additional legislative guidelines adopted by the Joint Rules Committee on the commission's work.

50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education

The Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Commission has been established by Congress to "plan and coordinate public education activities and initiatives, including public lectures, writing contests and public awareness campaigns," in 2004. In recognition of Virginia's historical role in this landmark decision and its aftermath, and the nexus between the decision and the start of the civil rights movement, to which Dr. King is inextricably linked, the commission will participate in national and statewide activities and events that have been planned, including a statewide conference. This conference is envisioned as a collaborative effort between the partner and regional participants of the King Living History and Public Policy Center, historians, the private sector, federal, state and local governments, civil rights organizations, and the King Commission. The coordination of various Virginia activities related to Brown within and without the Commonwealth will be an integral part of the conference.

This debut activity will provide the opportunity to recognize the legacy of Dr. King and explore the achievements of the civil rights movement and the challenges that still confront us. The conference also will give the King Living History and Public Policy Center a dramatic and important entrée into the public policy arena and provide the impetus for forums around the Commonwealth on the legal and cultural impact of Brown, the relationship between social and political issues in 1954 and related contemporary issues, and the lessons of Brown relative to these and other issues at the beginning of the 21st century. The conference will also provide a significant vehicle for fund-raising and revenue generation for the center.

2003 King Holiday and Year-Round Activities

The commission will lead the Commonwealth in honoring Dr. King's memory through statewide intergenerational community service programs, projects, and activities. The chairman and vice chairman will represent Virginia, together with the Governor, other dignitaries, community and corporate representatives at the annual awards banquet and other commemorative programs at the King Center in Atlanta. Among the commemorative activities planned by the King Commission are the re-planting of the tree dedicated to Dr. King and participation in and support of programs offered by Living the Dream, Inc., particularly the READ-IN and READ ALOUD programs. Other commemorative activities throughout the year will focus on mentoring, public forums on contemporary issues relative to King principles, brief daily readings from key sections of the United States Constitution, floor speeches that highlight the wisdom and philosophy of Dr. King, academic scholarships, editorials regarding the enduring relevancy of Dr. King's legacy, submission of commemorative events in Virginia to the national King Center for publication on the Internet, and recognition of the achievements of the Commonwealth's minority citizens.

The commission's last meeting for the 2002 interim will be held on Tuesday, December 17, 2002.


The Hon. Henry L. Marsh III

For information, contact:

Brenda H. Edwards
Division of Legislative Services


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