MLK Racial Justice

Passers-by walk near the 20-foot-high bronze sculpture "The Embrace," a memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, in the Boston Common, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, in Boston. The sculpture, consisting of four intertwined arms, was inspired by a photo of the Kings embracing when MLK learned he had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. The statue is to be unveiled during ceremonies Friday, Jan. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The newest statue memorializing Martin Luther King Jr. was unveiled in Boston on MLK Day, and boy did things get weird.

The sculpture titled “The Embrace”, is a 22-foot-tall statue that depicts Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, hugging. The sculpture derives from a famous photograph of the two.

Seems wholesome, right? You would think.

The statue has received a lot of backlash since its unveiling, primarily due to the fact that the sculpture is only Martin Luther King Jr. 's and Coretta King Scott’s arms. This has caused onlookers, especially on the internet, to ridicule the piece, some even saying that at certain angles, the statue looks like a lude sex act.

I hate to say it, but I can kind of see the resemblance.

I can’t help but wonder: Why just their arms? Coretta and Martin Luther King were a beautiful couple, so why not include their faces in a statue meant to memorialize them and everything they have done for the black community and the US in general?

I have to admit that I am no artist. Most meanings in displays of public art go right over my head, so I am definitely no expert when it comes to this kind of stuff. I’m sure there was a totally reasonable explanation as to why the sculpture only depicts their arms.

The artist, Hank Willis Thomas, defended the piece. Stating that his primary goal was to capture “the feeling of love” within the statue, and he believes he did just that.

However, the most important opinions regarding this statue is what Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King’s families thought of this piece. After all, it is their loved ones being memorialized in Boston.

A cousin of Coretta Scott King, Seneca Scott, was not impressed with the statue. He even went as far as calling it an insult to his family, pointing out the resemblance of the sex act within the sculpture.

On the other hand, Martin Luther King III, the son of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta, reportedly loved the sculpture. He thought Hank Willis Thomas did a wonderful job of depicting the love between his parents, also stating that the statue is “a huge representation of bringing people together.”

While I must admit the concept of the statue is a little obscure, I have to agree with Martin Luther King III. The entire point of the memorial was to represent the love of Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King. Although unconventional, I believe this statue does just that. What better way to express love than a hug?

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