While the dedication has been postponed because of Hurricane Irene, the anticipation has not diminished.
Maureen Forte says the unveiling of the memorial honoring Dr. King will be inspirational.
"It's very important that we share this history, teach this history to not just our children but to the generations to come," said Forte.
"I have a feeling that my emotions might make me tear and sing 'We Shall Overcome,'" said Timuel Black.
Black says seeing the good friend he once marched beside memorialized in stone will be a moving moment.
"I have to carry that dream, in my mind and in my heart. I have an obligation to this man who articulated for me, and many more the dream of the world as it ought to be," said Black.
On the National Mall, the nearly 30-foot statue of Dr. King looks out over the tidal basin. The stone that his likeness is featured on is called the "stone of hope, thrust forward from the mountain of despair" -- references to King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
Now, 48 years after that speech, Dr. King becomes the first non-president and African-American memorialized on the National Mall.
Dr. King's college fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, raised nearly $120 million to build the memorial featuring famous quotations from Dr. King etched in stone.
"We in the Chicago freedom movement are continuing our drive," said King.
Dr. King had deep connections to Chicago, even moving to the city's West Side to fight against poverty in 1966. But his Chicago journey started in a church.
The first time that Dr. King spoke in Chicago was on the campus of the University of Chicago at Rockefeller Chapel. For many, Dr. King's words still ring true.
"After two words I was mesmerized. I couldn't take my eyes off of him," said Mildred Jackson.
Jackson first saw Dr. King speak at the Rockefeller Chapel.
"Pride, it just gives me such a feeling of pride and being so proud that he would get that memories and dedication. Because while he was living a lot of people didn't believe in what he was doing," said Jackson.
"I think that it demonstrates the unique democratic character of America," said Rev. Otis Moss III, pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's South Side. "It is the call of action."
Rev. Moss' church raised more than a $100,000 for the memorial.
"The week of the memorial is not just, look at what we have done, we've now placed someone who is not a president in Washington DC on the mall to lift up his legacy. But also raising the question, what are we to do now," said Moss.
Rev. Moss will preside over the dedication.