Remembering King: A Dispute in Collective Public Memory

Hannah Ciocco, Elizabethtown College

History Honors in the Discipline


For my history Honors in the Discipline project, I produced a 40-minute documentary which focused on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington D.C. and the criticisms surrounding the memorial. My documentary emphasized the idea that the enduring nature of memorials ensures that they have significant influence on public memory. For these reasons, memorials often elicit serious debate, especially during their planning stages. In regard to the MLK Jr. memorial, many people insisted the structure embodied the ideals and values of the Civil Rights movement as they interpreted them. Upon completion, however, memorials often become accepted and beloved landmarks that influence public memory for years and even generations. In the documentary I made it clear that even with the criticisms surrounding the memorial, Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy is a beacon of hope and justice for many people and will continue to be for countless years to come.