Rappers, Athletes Raising Funds For MLK Memorial

As Black History Month kicks into full swing, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Foundation has issued a nationwide challenge to raise funding for the memorial to $80 Million.

With current fundraising donations totaling $77 million, the foundation is challenging corporations, foundations and individuals to raise an additional $3 million during the month of February.

"I am excited to report that we have raised over three quarters of the funds to build a lasting memorial on the National Mall to honor Dr. King and his ideals of hope, democracy, and love," said Harry E. Johnson Sr., President and CEO of the Memorial Foundation. "We have had a tremendous amount of momentum since the November groundbreaking ceremony which I know we can keep up if we all pitch in during February."

Several Hip-Hop notables including Russell Simmons and Nelly have already provided major financial support to the foundation.

Nelly donated $50,000 to the foundation in 2005, while Simmons recently donated an undisclosed amount.

"I have responded to calls for "shrines" because I have thought that there is a greater need to feed the fight against poverty and ignorance," Simmons told AllHipHop.com. "Martin Luther King exuded the consciousness we all need to promote to overcome the mind set of poverty, so for that cause, his legacy needs to be lifted up."

The donations will go towards building a memorial on the mall in Washington, D.C., in honor of the civil rights legend, as well as, educating people about King and his accomplishments.

Additionally, the company is planning a media blitz on the Internet, through direct mail, print advertising in high circulation newspapers, television and radio PSAs.

The new PSA's feature NBA legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Irving, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Bob Lanier, Bill Russell, and Bill Walton.

The new MLK memorial will be situated adjacent to the F.D.R. Memorial and in a direct line between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials and is scheduled to be completed in 2008.

For more information or to donate to the memorial, log onto www.buildthedream.org.