He once had a dream. Today, he stands 30-feet-tall, peering over the hurdles he tried to overcome before he died 43 years ago.
In elementary school, Martin Luther King Jr. is usually the first person introduced during lessons on the civil rights movement.
"He was a preacher, supported nonviolence and was a peaceful man," said biology freshman Margaux McIntyre, 19. "He was a big part of American history."
On Aug. 22, King's memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., officially opened to the public.
President Barack Obama, as well as members of the King family and civil rights leaders, will gather Sunday morning in the nation's capital to dedicate the memorial.
The memorial originally was to be dedicated on Aug. 28, the anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Hurricane Irene postponed the event.
King's statue is situated on a four-acre plot between the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.
The National Capital Planning Commission and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts approved the site location in December 1999.
Some people are dissatisfied with the message inscribed on King's statue.
Just days after the opening of the memorial, poet Maya Angelou spoke with CNN's T.J. Holmes, expressing her disapproval of the 1963 quote inscribed on the statue, which reads: "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness."
"Each word he spoke was chosen carefully, and you can hear that he was very careful in the words he used to express his thoughts," Angelou told Holmes. "In this case of the statement on the sculpture, as it stands now, that's not an apt reportage of what Rev. King said."
Despite Angelou's misgivings, about 50,000 people are expected to attend this weekend's dedication, according to dedicatethedream.org.
Sharon Austin, director of the UF African American Studies Program, said she is happy King's memorial will be added to the historic sites in Washington, D.C.
"It's a good thing to see a prominent African-American listed as someone who has the same type of respect as Abraham Lincoln," Austin said.