Expanded Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Gardens reopens in Raleigh

Photo by Beairshelle Edmé/CBS North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) —  Saturday more than three dozen people bundled up to commemorate the new expansion and re-opening of Raleigh’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Gardens.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony and several brief remarks were given to honor the occasion.

The $1 million project added a covered area with 16 picnic tables and a restroom facility.

Those who have seen this effort through and supported the memorial’s mission say it’s been a long-time coming.

“Little did we know that it would become the only public park solely dedicated to Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement,” explained Bruce Lightner, who spearheaded the memorial’s creation more than 25 years ago. “It wasn’t easy, but we did it.”

The public park serves not only as a memorial, but now also as a place of learning about the civil rights movement.

City officials say free passes are available to help teach people about the country’s history and the civil rights era.

Bessie Branch is excited to see the community’s vision for the park come to life.

She was right alongside thousands when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called on people to march in Washington, D.C.

“We worked hard. There was no opportunity for us, so I thank God that things have changed. But we need to keep moving forward. We can’t go back,” Branch said.

The public can visit the gardens, located at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Rock Quarry Road, year-round from sunrise to sunset.

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