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Still chasing King's dream
National Slavery Museum planned for Fredericksburg could aid in achieving equality, former city Mayor Lawrence Davies says.

 Members of the Harrison Road Elementary School chorus perform during the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration held yesterday in the auditorium of James Monroe High School.
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Date published: 1/20/2003

Davies: Museum will help

The National Slavery Museum planned for Fredericksburg could help in the mission of seeking equality for all people, former city Mayor Lawrence Davies said yesterday.

"It may speak to needs of our day," said Davies, a member of the museum's advisory panel and pastor of Fredericksburg's Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site).

He said the museum, scheduled to officially open in 2007, could be an important educational tool.

Specifically, it could be a place for discussion of racial issues and slavery in other nations. The museum's proximity to Washington--it's slated for 38 acres in the planned Celebrate Virginia tourism development off Interstate 95--could allow for visits by foreign diplomats, Davies said.

His comments came after a celebration of the life of the late civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., sponsored by the Omicron Alpha Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

Nearly 300 people gathered in the auditorium of James Monroe High School in Fredericksburg to hear an update on plans for a King memorial on the National Mall, and to listen to Davies speak about--and local choirs sing about--equality and King's work.

The King memorial will be on four acres on the Tidal Basin adjacent to the monument to former President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

It will be the first Mall site to commemorate an influential black leader. Groundbreaking is scheduled for November 2004.

The memorial will cost $100 million, however, so Alpha Phi Alpha is seeking donations.

Many in yesterday's crowd eagerly accepted donation envelopes, pledging to do their part.

Without hesitation, they also sang along with Mary Washington College's Voices of Praise in an a cappella version of "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

And they listened to a speech by Davies, the only black mayor in Fredericksburg's history. He ended his talk with King's familiar words, from his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

After Davies finished, master of ceremonies Hassel A. Morrison said, "Let's take those words, and let us build on them as we leave this place."

For more information on the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial planned in Washington, visit mlkmemorial.org on the Web.