Design of ‘The Embrace' Statue Honoring MLK Prompts Varied Response in Boston

Since the unveiling of "The Embrace" memorial to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King Friday on Boston Common, people have expressed a lot of opinions about the statue's unique appearance

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When The Embrace monument to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, was unveiled last week on Boston Common, it brought a range of emotions.

Visitors to Friday's ceremony reflected on the ways in which King's quest for civil rights changed the world, as well as the need for continued progress. Yolanda King, daughter of Martin Luther King III, said the memorial symbolizes "perseverance and the power of love."

The public reaction to the design of the statue itself, which displays only its subjects' interlocked arms, has been mixed.

A memorial to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, was presented in Boston Friday.

One person on Boston Common Tuesday said that the monument "looks really impressive in person." Another called it "a horrible piece of art," likening the imagery to that of "an alien."

"I like the emphasis on the embrace, and love, rather than the individuals involved," one man remarked.

A woman called the design "inexplicable," adding, "it is worse than I ever expected."

Seneca Scott, cousin of Coretta Scott King, said he thought the statue was "a grotesque symbol of postmodernism."

Still, Scott says he is happy about the increased attention all of this has brought to Coretta Scott King's role in the relationship with Martin Luther King.

"More than just a doting wife, she was a force in her own right in the civil rights movement," he said.

The statue's artist, Hank Willis Thomas, says he was drawn by the grasp Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King had on each other in the photo used for inspiration.

"I am just sitting here learning from life," he said.

Thomas says he appreciates the feedback, adding sometimes public art takes time to find acceptance.

"Much like the Vietnam War Memorial, where there was a little bit of — maybe a lot of controversy, when it came out, but it's also now one of the greatest-regarded memorials in the country," he said. "I hope that is the story of The Embrace."

Join Latoyia Edwards, Glenn Jones and Priscilla Casper as The Embrace statue is unveiled on Boston Common.
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