A monument to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has been ridiculed by people who say it doesn’t represent the martyred civil rights leader. Nevertheless, the monument was unveiled in Boston on Friday. Entitled “The Embrace” by Brooklyn-based African American artist Hank Willis Thomas. It is based on a photograph of King and his wife embracing at his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.
But, like all art, it’s subject to interpretation. And the interpretation of the clasped hands, with no torso or head, looked to many observers more like a phallic symbol.
In an essay, Coretta Scott King’s first cousin, Seneca Scott, penned a response, saying the statue “looks more like a pair of hands hugging a beefy penis than a special moment shared by the iconic couple.”
Scott is a community organizer who founded Neighbors Together Oakland. Scott King, he wrote, is the daughter of his great uncle Obediah Scott. Calling it an insult to his family, he also objected to the massive monument, which he said cost $10 million, for providing ceremonial anti-racism instead of doing something tangible about it.
Scott’s essay continued, “Consider this our Declaration of Interdependence,” reads the Embrace Boston website. “What does that even mean? Black families in America who need help don’t care for more woke slogans.”
He added, “They need jobs that pay the bills and keep up with food and energy costs that are rising faster than ever before for most of us. Building expensive, stupid new statues with no faces on them—and tearing down others for no good reason—are part of the same performative altruism and purity pageants that are mainstays of the woke left.”
Even former Fox host Megyn Kelly said, “It looks like a giant penis.” And Washington Post columnist Karen Attiah said in a Twitter thread that she didn’t care for the symbolism evoked by the supposed “tribute.”
“It doesn’t sit well with me that Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King are reduced to body parts – just their arms,” Attiah posted. “Not their faces – their expressions. For such a large statue, dismembering MLK and Coretta Scott King is…a choice. A deliberate one.”
Thomas told Don Lemon that “this was a piece selected by the people of Boston. Thousands of people worked on this, thousands of people put it together and no one saw I would say, this perverse perspective. And to bring that to the King’s legacy is to dictate the making of art and the celebration is really strange to me.”
“The Embrace” is in the city’s public park, Boston Common, the oldest park in the country. In April 1965, a rally was held in the park headed by King, and the monument is displayed as part of the 1965 Freedom Rally Memorial Plaza.
“I was moved by the large representation of this statue,“ Martin Luther King III told CNN, adding that people’s opinions are just like “butts,” because everyone has one.
He says that he’s happy that the statue represents both of his parents, who met in Boston in 1951. King was studying for a doctorate at Boston University, and Coretta was attending the New England Conservatory of Music.
“Many monuments are done just around dad,” King III said. “But it represents the kind of relationship they had working together, and they were a partnership.”
See how Twitter’s reacting to the new MLK monument below:
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