Photo: Getty Imag
  /  01.17.2023

On Friday (Jan. 13), a 20-foot tall, 40-foot wide bronze sculpture honoring the late civil rights icon Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, was unveiled in Boston. In a celebration held before the federal holiday in his name, the world was introduced to “The Embrace,” a statue depicting the Kings hugging in 1964 after he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Since the MLK statue was erected, it’s received mixed reviews. One, in particular, comes from Seneca Scott, Coretta’s cousin, who believes the monument shows a different type of embrace that probably should’ve come with a warning. “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… other people clamp onto that… it’s a stump that looked like a penis. That’s a joke,” Scott told CNN in an article shared today (Jan. 17). He previously referred to it as a “masturbatory metal homage.”

Many on social media agreed. “Was wondering what the fuss was about the MLK ‘[The] Embrace’ statue [was], and then I saw this angle of it,” a user tweeted with a photo. One news outlet wrote, “Video of the ‘Embrace’ MLK statue in Boston… Is there any angle where this does not look pornographic?” Another person said depending on where you’re standing, it could look like many inappropriate things, including “someone holding a giant penis” or even “a giant butthole.” Brooklyn-based conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas created the monument, and it reportedly cost $10 million to sculpt.

Others found it insensitive to discredit Thomas’ work. “Some of the public discourse around ‘[The] Embrace’ (MLK Statue) by Hank Willis Thomas is so disheartening, especially from those within the Black community. No matter what your opinion may be… tearing down another Black man who’s genuinely a great artist and good human is gross,” a user said online. Yesterday (Jan. 16), Martin Luther King III praised the artist’s rendering of his parents: “I think that’s a huge representation of bringing people together. 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.”

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