To date, $58 million has been raised for the $100 million memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with more than $4.5 million collected in just one recent week. By comparison, the campaign took in just over $5 million in all of 2004.
Harry E. Johnson, Sr., president of the nonprofit group behind the project, told The Associated Press that the death of Rosa Parks in October and Coretta Scott King in January inspired people to contribute to the memorial.
The Martin Luther King, Jr., National Memorial would be the first major tribute to the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner outside his hometown of Atlanta, where he was born in 1929. The memorial would be on the National Mall between the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials.
The project still is short of the amount needed to break ground by year's end, which would put it on track to be completed in 2008.
Capitalizing on the recent momentum, organizers hope to stage several fundraising dinners this year in several cities, including Atlanta. Fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, who has donated $5 million, plans to host one of the dinners this fall in New York, according to the president of the Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation.
Most of the money raised so far has come from corporate donors, including $10 million from General Motors.