Martin Luther King Jr monument in Boston prompts mockery and criticism


Backlash happened soon after the unveiling of a monument meant to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King in Boston.

The 20-foot-tall, 40-foot-wide “The Embrace” statue was unveiled Friday on Boston Common, where King gave a speech on April 23, 1965, to a crowd of 22,000. The statue was inspired by a photo of King and Scott King hugging after winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

The artwork, designed by Brooklyn-based conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas, only shows the couple’s arms during the friction and not their heads, prompting criticism and ridicule online. Some people said it was scary or disrespectful while others posted memes and said it was like a sex act.

Seneca Scott, a community organizer in Oakland, California, and Scott King’s cousin, told CNN that the statue was offensive to his family. He previously described it as a “masturbatory metal tribute” in an essay published by Compact Magazine.

“If you can look at it from all sides, and it’s probably two people hugging each other, it’s four arms. It is not the ones who are missing but the concern that others tend to that; it is a stump that looked like a penis. That’s a joke,” Scott told CNN.

The memorial statue at Boston Common has drawn mixed reviews online and from some family members.

But Martin Luther King III said Monday that he was grateful to be able to see a statue that represents his parents’ love story and their partnership. Although some people have negative opinions about the monument, he told CNN’s Don Lemon on Monday that he liked it.

“I think that’s a huge demonstration of bringing people together,” King said. “I think the artist did a great job. I am happy. Yes, the images of my mum and dad weren’t there, but it shows something that brings people together.”

“And in this time, day and age, with so much division, we need symbols that bring us together,” he said.

CNN has reached out to Thomas for comment about the reaction to “The Embrace.” In his newsletter, Thomas said earlier this month that the piece was not only a monument to King and Scott King “but a monument to his love and power.”

A representative for Embrace Boston, a racial and economic justice nonprofit group behind the creation of the monument, declined to comment on the criticism and King III’s comments were delayed.

“The Embrace is intended to encourage visitors to reflect on the values ​​of racial and economic justice that both Kings stood for,” the group said of the memorial on its website.


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