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HOUSTON Forty-three years after his I Have a Dream speech, a slain civil rights icon is being remembered in the nation s capital.

Rev. Bill Lawson, Wheeler Avenue Baptist church s founder, knew King as a colleague and said he thinks of him often.

Here was a man who was a first in a lifetime. He was our Isaiah. He was our Jeremiah, Lawson said.

Lawson said he was moved as he gazed upon the face of the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington D.C.

I wept openly when I got to see that monument, he said.

Not all of King s contemporaries have been so impressed. Critics like famed poet Maya Angelou have taken issue with portions of the memorial that she believes wrongfully portray King as arrogant. The granite statue located on the national mall is 30-feet high.

He would never have asked for anything like that, Lawson said. And [King would be] probably a little embarrassed by something like that. But we believe he s worth it.

It is worth it, Lawson said, because of the impact King had on transforming the nation. And while some detractors have criticized the fact that the sculptor is Chinese, King s message of unity and brotherhood belies why men like Lawson support the move.

If he s somebody who expects black children and white children to sit down together at a table of brotherhood, he certainly would ve expected that we look for somebody, not on the basis of race, but based on their qualifications, Lawson said.

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