New MLK Sculpture Widely Criticized


A new sculpture commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has drawn all kinds of commentary | Image by Boston Globe/Getty Images

A new sculpture honoring the late civil rights movement icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, was unveiled in Boston last week ahead of MLK Day.

The artist, Hank Willis Thomas, was chosen from 125 artists and architects to design a new monument in Boston dedicated to the Kings.

He chose the moment of the Kings hugging after Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

He used the iconic photo to immortalize the Kings in a bronze statue that is 20 feet long and 26 feet wide.

However, instead of including the Kings’ faces and bodies, Thomas depicted just the couple’s arms. He titled it The Embrace.

Americans took to social media to voice their opinions over the unveiled statue of the civil rights icons.

“I have some questions about the MLK sculpture in Boston,” Twitter user Marie Sheehan said, replying to an announcement by a 7News Boston WHDH reporter. Sheehan’s tweet included a picture of the sculpture.

The Dallas Express reached out to multiple art institutions, including the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas’s premier art district, for comment but did not hear back by the time of publication.

The Dallas Express also reached out to The University of North Texas College of Visual Arts & Design to speak with Professor Jeff McClung, a visual arts technician with five years of experience working for a professional bronze foundry and expertise in casting, welding, woodworking, and metal fabrication, among many other areas, for comment. No response had been received at the time of publication.

The sculpture drew varied reactions, and while Thomas may be happy with how the sculpture turned out, many felt differently. Among the sculpture’s critics was a cousin of Coretta Scott King, Seneca Scott, who is a community organizer in Oakland, California. Scott wrote critically of the sculpture in Compact and shared her thoughts with CNN.

“If you can look at it from all angles, and it’s probably two people hugging each other, it’s four hands. It’s not the missing heads that’s the atrocity that other people clamp onto that; it’s a stump that looked like a penis. That’s a joke,” Scott told CNN.

The couple’s son, however, told CNN that he liked the statue. 

“I think that’s a huge representation of bringing people together,” Martin Luther King III said. “I think the artist did a great job. I’m satisfied. Yeah, it didn’t have my mom and dad’s images, but it represents something that brings people together.”
“And in this time, day and age, when there’s so much division, we need symbols that talk about bringing us together,” he added.

If you enjoyed this article, please support us today!

Formed in 2021, we provide fact-based, non-partisan news. The Dallas Express is a non-profit organization funded by charitable support and advertising.

Please join us on the important journey to make Dallas a better place!

We welcome and appreciate comments on The Dallas Express as part of a healthy dialogue. We do ask that you be kind. Kind to each other and to everyone else in your comments. For more information, please refer to our Complete Comment Moderation Policy.

Subscribe to Comments
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments