MLK Jr. Memorial, Brought to You by BP?

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/newshour/6079715469/sizes/m/in/photostream/">NewsHour</a>/Flickr


Hurricane Irene has forced organizers to delay the dedication ceremony for the new memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the National Mall, which was originally scheduled for this weekend. But before the cancelation, I was a bit surprised to see BP, of all companies, tweeting about it yesterday:

Well, sponsorship of a memorial to a civil rights hero is certainly better than befouling the Gulf of Mexico or killing polar bears. But doesn’t it strike you as a little odd that BP—or any corporation, for that matter—is sponsoring a monument on the National Mall? Actually, it turns out that the monument has a long list of corporate sponsors—the General Motors Foundation, Chevrolet, the Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation, Aetna, Boeing, BP, Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, GE, McDonald’s, Travelers, and Walmart.

I’m not entirely opposed to corporations giving support for good causes. It just makes me uncomfortable that those corporations can use this as a badge of honor, evidence that they are responsible, compassionate members of the community. They can dump money on good causes instead of actually living up to the morals that Dr. King stood for.

I’m surely not alone in wishing that BP would, perhaps, also consider compensating the victims of the Gulf oil spill that they’ve ignored, many of whom are poor people or members of minority groups. Or McDonalds could serve healthier food in low-income communities. Or Walmart could offer decent wages and benefits to all of its employees.

I’m not really sure how common corporate sponsorship is for memorials on the Mall these days; I sent in a few questions to the foundation behind the memorial, but haven’t heard back.

Meanwhile, the Atlantic is keeping track of other gripes about the MLK memorial.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate