02/27/07 -- BOB DART -- The Atlanta
Journal-Constitution Washington — The National Association of Realtors
donated $1 million to the foundation building the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
National Memorial on Tuesday, bringing the project close to raising four-fifths
of its $100 million goal.
"This takes us up to $78 million toward the $100 million we need," said Harry Johnson,
president of the foundation.
Johnson noted that the memorial, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2008, will be
built on some of the nation's prime real estate beside the Tidal Basin on the National Mall.
"We thank Congress for location, location, location," said Johnson, playing on the old
Realtor adage about what determines home value.
Rep. John Lewis, an Atlanta Democrat, said it was "fitting and appropriate" that the gift
came from the association of more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of
residential and commercial real estate.
"The mall is what I like to call the front yard of the nation," said Lewis, who marched with
King as a civil rights activist.
Pat Vredevoogd Combs, president of the Realtors association, said the group joined with
the Congressional Black Caucus in 1988 to amend the Fair Housing Act to promote
minority home ownership.
"NAR is an outspoken advocate of fair housing, an ally in the fight against predatory
lending practices and an organization that prides itself on building communities," said
Combs. "We are proud to be a part of the effort to build a permanent home to honor Dr.
King on our national mall."