Have you heard about the new statue in Boston?
It looks like a penis. (seriously.)
It's an insult.
It's called "The Embrace"
, and was unveiled with much fanfare a little over one week ago, in a very prominent place downtown on Boston Common.But, reaction was swift
and according to some news sources, universal.
Backlash ensued soon after a monument meant to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King's legacy in Boston was unveiled.
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 photograph of King and Scott King which captured them hugging after he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
The art piece, designed by Brooklyn-based conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas, only features the couple's arms during the embrace and not their heads, which has sparked criticism and mockery online. While some people defended the sculpture, others described it as hideous or disrespectful, with social media users posting memes saying it resembled a sex act.
Seneca Scott, a community organizer in Oakland, California, and cousin of Scott King, told CNN the statue was insulting to his family. He previously described it as a "masturbatory metal homage" in an essay published by Compact Magazine.
"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.
But Martin Luther King III said on Monday he was grateful to be able to see a statue representing his parents' love story and their partnership. While some people have negative opinions about the monument, he told CNN's Don Lemon on Monday he liked it.
"I think that's a huge representation of bringing people together," King 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.
I was fortunate to drive a charter on the day of the unveiling for members of Boston University - which is Dr. King's alma mater. (Class of '55). I altered the route and drove past the statue intentionally, and the gaggle of students and professors on board were giddy with joy.
Our monument here is a work of art - unlike many dry and imposing statues of Dr. King. We all know what he looked like, and I'm sure many of us have stood at the national memorial in Washington, DC. Dr. King is always portrayed as stern and no-nonsense.
Boston's memorial is very different. It's meant to honor a human feeling - an embrace he shared with his wife Coretta after learning that he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
I'm going to be persnickety here today - I'm not going to post a photo of the sculpture. Look it up yourself and make up your own mind. I've driven past it several times since it was unveiled, and I think it is actually magnificent. Even better - I'm among the select few that will see this as bronze. Unless the city plans on polishing and cleaning it, in just a year or two it will be as green as the Statue of Liberty. I am particularly enamored of that.