New Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. & Coretta Scott King Monument In Boston Met With Criticism

A new Boston monument titled “The Embrace” portrays a hug between the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.

A new monument dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King has caught a wave of backlash since being erected over the weekend. Titled “The Embrace,” the 20-foot tall, 40-foot wide bronze sculpture was unveiled on Friday (January 13) on Boston Common with 22,000 in attendance. Inspired by a photograph of Dr. King and Scott King hugging after the former won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, the monument was created by Brooklyn-based artist Hank Willis Thomas.

While the art piece shows the couple’s arms and not their heads, some have compared the monument to phallicism. Seneca Scott, a community organizer in Oakland, California, and cousin of the late Scott King, said in a Compact Magazine essay that “The Embrace” was a “masturbatory metal homage.”

“Ten million dollars were wasted to create a masturbatory metal homage to my legendary family members—one of the all-time greatest American families,” Scott wrote.

Opposing Scott’s views was Dr. King and Scott King’s eldest son Martin Luther King III.

“I think that’s a huge representation of bringing people together,” he said. “I think the artist did a great job. I’m satisfied,” he told CNN.

Thomas has since defended the piece, which was commissioned by non-profit organization Embrace Boston, from detractors.

“I’d seen a lot of work on the images of Dr. King, but I realized I hadn’t focused on and noticed the way intimacy was present in [the Kings’] relationship—the way that they looked at each other and laughed at each other, walked hand in hand and arm in arm,” Thomas told The Art Newspaper. “I was really excited to see them hugging and embracing…also, the pride and joy on her face, and the glee and almost a sense of relief on his face.

Check out more reactions to “The Embrace” below.

Jaelani Turner-Williams

Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with bylines at Billboard, MTV News, NYLON, Recording Academy and more. Read her mind on Twitter at @hernameisjae.

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Jaelani Turner-Williams

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