The Daily Need

Photo: Set in stone

A peek at the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial on the National Mall in Washington, Sunday, August 21, 2011. Photo: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The public got its first glimpse of the MLK Memorial on Monday as it was unveiled in Washington, D.C. The memorial will be officially dedicated on Sunday, August 28, which is the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington and King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The entire $120 million memorial consists of a 30-foot statue of King emerging from stone and a 450-foot-long granite wall that is inscribed with 14 of King’s quotations from his speeches and books. It sits on the National Mall near the Tidal Basin between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials.

The statue has provoked some controversy over the decision to select Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin as head sculptor for the project. Some have argued that the likeness of Dr. King looks too confrontational with his arms crossed, and others have claimed that the face appears to have Asian features. The design was chosen by the the children of the civil rights leader, Martin Luther King III and Bernice King, who have been reported to be very pleased with the likeness.

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

 
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Comments

  • BangNotWhisper

    About time

  • Lovnlewis

    i’m an artist (skect) and find asian likeness in many blacks. i’m white.

  • Lovnlewis

    i’m an artist (skect) and find asian likeness in many blacks. i’m white.

  • Me

    it’s mao tse tung 

  • Me

    it’s mao tse tung 

  • Kara

    I think people are just looking for something to complain about. It is a powerful pose and a striking image. About time we had something honoring Dr. King!

  • Me

    it’s mao tse tung 

  • Kara

    I think people are just looking for something to complain about. It is a powerful pose and a striking image. About time we had something honoring Dr. King!

  • Kara

    I think people are just looking for something to complain about. It is a powerful pose and a striking image. About time we had something honoring Dr. King!

  • Me

    it’s mao tse tung 

  • Me

    it’s mao tse tung 

  • Kara

    I think people are just looking for something to complain about. It is a powerful pose and a striking image. About time we had something honoring Dr. King!

  • Me

    it’s mao tse tung 

  • Kara

    I think people are just looking for something to complain about. It is a powerful pose and a striking image. About time we had something honoring Dr. King!

  • Kara

    I think people are just looking for something to complain about. It is a powerful pose and a striking image. About time we had something honoring Dr. King!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WLT4NTKGKOOFXPZ4KEXND55E44 Neen Homoki

    Eee their is something Stalin-esque about it.  Not sure I like it in the over all.  Good idea but not sure I like the look of it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dannyjdc Danny Cutting

    Sorry. but it reminds me of all those USSR statues of the past…and doesn’t look like the man with the vision and the courage…just rather defiant .. Not what I hoped for at all. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1437004048 Stephanie Wilson

    Doesn’t look like him.

  • http://twitter.com/stlemur stlemur

    How can a statue of someone who led campaigns of mass civil disobedience and marches on Washington be “too confrontational”?

  • Val Elliott

    about time!!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1450282130 Cory Sisk

    I like the seriousness in Dr. MLK’s face and stance. It shows his determination to forge ahead. He opened so many doors on so many levels that all future generations need to be educated about MLK!

  • Jojo

    The posture of this statue for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. depicts someone who is closed off (arms crossed). I realize his children picked this design but a different posture could have been used. Otherwise, very pleased that this statue is now on display. 

  • Jennycx007

    looks more like lavar burton than mlk. very poor likeness

  • J Kampen

    I’m glad there is a memorial to him.  I just wonder if the Chinese sculptor was an American Citizen and from where did the $120 million come?  Is it money from our tax payers and is it going back into our economy??

  • Jessa

    *sigh*  a false idol? he was a Christian. I feel sure he’d oppose this, if he could speak for himself.

  • TheZunicorn

    Congrats to Lavar Burton’s angry half-asian albino brother on his statue

  • Anonymous

    If I’m not mistaken, all Memorials on the Mall are privately funded. No Tax Dollars to build. To maintain, yes, taxpayer dollars are spent.

  • Mideca55

    I’m reading all these critics complaining about the likeness of the Reverend Dr. King, based on an online photogragh. I prefer to view it in person before expressing an opinion. If his family has approved it…that’s good enough for me.

  • Ursula

    Dr King emerging from granite, arms folded in a defiant stance. This memorial is a perfect image of a man who changed America through defiance and determination. Congratulations to Lei Yixin and his children for choosing such an iconic portrayal, It’s about time.

  • Igotchagiftlady1

    Exactly i agree with you some people are just ignorant they would talk bad about anyone and anything  just to have something to say hey people talked bad about Jesus Christ so i guess Dr. King is not exempt  and before it’s said i’m not putting Martin in the same category as Jesus because you know some idiot will try to say i’m comparing them when i’m doing nothing of the sort but those who have a grain of intelligence will understand what i’m saying. The statue is finished it’s up weather you all think there are Asian features, hands folded or whatever the case it’s up i’m happy it’s long over due in my book so GET OVER IT! 

  • Anonymous

    I’m truly disappointed that the stone is such a ghostly color. I had assumed that a statue of MLK would be made out of a dark colored stone.

  • Johono

    Quit the negative gripeing…..and get to the positive….It is a memorial to the future peace loving people….any one at all.

  • Erin Lloyd

    Well, I know I donated to the fund several times over the years.  People who continue to support the work of civil rights leaders today are usually in the know about these things.  If you’re so glad that there’s a memorial, you probably should donate to it too.  And then do some civil rights work.

  • Mauricio Barriga

    Beautiful memorial. To all the critics: Please try to step outside of your little tribe and join the human race. Wasn’t that what Dr. Kings was all about.

  • Mauricio Barriga

    Beautiful memorial. To all the critics: Please try to step outside of your little tribe and join the human race. Wasn’t that what Dr. Kings was all about.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1452280289 Stephanie Howard

    This just looks angry. I love that we finally have a memorial, but this does not say wisdom, power, humility. This does not say “I have a dream”. It doesn’t portray the certainty that a better day will come…it just looks angry, disappointed even. I wish the design could have captured a more inspirational likeness.

  • Jamal

    the inability of critical discourse over a work of art is sad. all this, its done, enjoy it blah blah nonsense.  it is ridiculous. he lookes like a superhero. what in earth does this have to do with his gift of nonviolence and brotherhood? are we so childish that we can only appreciate the most literal possible works-the larger than life replica of a great man in stone? have we learned nothing from maya lin’s profound vietnam memorial that is not so readily and immediately grasped and simplistic? stone of hope? good grief. its a bad amusement park with cliche waterfalls. this man changed an entire nation by the most life affirming notion possible-that one man cannot bear to watch another suffer without feeling something. his gift to us all is cheapened by this glorified idolotry in stone clearly competing with the other white stone figures on the mall. i learn nothing from this memorial, and take away nothing. my children will see it as another cliche statue.

    yes it is about time. but that doesnt justify something so dissappointing after all this time and money spent on it.

  • Piero, He of the East Bay

    I think people talking about what an appropriate icon or expression of his famously warm and strong nature is, is perfectly reasonable, in fact it’s what he was all about: Looking behind the presumed meaning of things and getting to their core essence.
    Personally, while I think the statue makes him look far more imperious than he usually did, and that I have only ever seen one picture of him with his arms crossed, that yes. it looks good.
    Does this mean that if someone doesn’t like it that somehow they are just “not getting it” or being a hater?
    I think that’s ironic. people critiquing, the appropriateness of critique, about statue of a famous critic. I must go somewhere and laugh really hard now.

    God Bless MLK.
    The rest of you can study what he said a little more closely.

  • Alsacienne

    I went there today to see for myself and it’s very impressive.  I believe it does the man justice.  I disagree with those who think it conveys anger; it’s stern, yes, but remember the times and the struggles: they were not for the faint (or soft) of heart.   I took some pictures, uploaded here on flickr if you’d like to see more of the memorial: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjvLEyVT

  • Jamal

    the comment about the white stone is apt-

    why not a beautiful dark stone? why is he whitewashed? why is the entire memorial whitewashed?  I agree with the comment that MLK himself would not approve of a 30′ tall figure of himself. he walked among the protestors, he went to jail, he was never above the lowest of us all. his last few days were spent fighting for the poor, and sanitation workers’ rights. what he stood for, and fought for, has been whitewashed, and subverted to a cliche image of what a memorial is supposed to look like.

    a huge statue, add a lot of quotes in stone, some waterfalls, and arbitrarily name parts of it-stone of hope, stone of banality, etc. and voila!
    you have a memorial.

    he might as well be a transformer figure with his face.
    we are turning into a nation of adolescents unable to comprehend and face contradiction, duality, plurality, complexity, or anything that requires thoughtful consideration on our parts.

  • joe

    Everyone has a different perception of what Dr. King looked like.  As long as his family approved of the image, that’s what should matter.  If I have any concern over the memorial, it’s not the memorial itself, it’s that we had to go offshore for the granite and labor to make the sculptures.  Dr. King fought for people here to have good jobs here, family wage jobs.  Going out of country for the granite when we have substantial sources of great granite here…. it’s sad, especially here on the National Mall.  The memorial serves a reminder of where we’ve been, where we’re at and how far we still have to go to see the dream.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Piero510 Piero Amadeo Infante

    @a340b4e634731aad4974674f8773af2e:disqus @Mauricio Barriga The human race IS “our little tribe”, and free expression of ideas IS what  MLK was all about.

  • Disgusted

    With the broadness of his nose, the fullness of his lips, the gaping of his brow, he is clearly a BLACK man, whether set in ivory, granite or the red clay of Georgia! God Bless MLK. His stance says to me….. ENOUGH WITH THE BULLCRAP!  

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1482986610 J Eric Goines

    What the statue says is not about humility. Its about having the strength in the face of adversity to confront your attackers with a peace so powerful, they will be brought to their knees by it.

  • Nverdad

    He’s an ICON given space on the National Capital Mall where only PRESIDENTS Lincoln, Jefferson, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt are given statuary recognition, so one MUST BE CRITICAL, AT LEAST in the comprehensive “philosophically precise” sense of the term.

  • Nverdad

    More like Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals?

  • Nverdad

    My impressions/statements on this subject have been quite captious, almost objurgatory.  However, I must say the artistry of YOUR photographs conveys a Pyramids-like monumentality and augustness to the statue and its ancillary environs! I shall remain the “outraged” CONTRARIAN, but clearly the sculptor IS a TRUE ARTIST, as ARE YOU!!(By the way, out of curiosity, what lens(es) did you use on which photographs?)

  • Jamal

    to read comments about bringing enemies to their knees, like a superhero that shows no mercy, and that revenge thirsty audiences applauds, is very disheartening, when we are talking about a man who gave his life to his love of his fellow man-filled with mercy, compassion, and forgiveness.

    we overcame with the power of brotherhood, that is what is so beautiful about the civil rights movement-unlike any other. it wasnt just another revolution from the oppressed overturning unjust treatment. it was nonviolent, and by that, i mean it put all its transitive force in the hands of others, all its faith in the ties of brotherhood. so a white businessmen in boston, watching the firehoses being used on passive protestors, was so moved, they chartered a jet to altanta and said, how can we help? that was the reach of their faith. the fight was everyone’s fight.

    do you see that in this memorial?
    i dont see anything even approaching the profundity of his ideas.

  • Alsacienne

    Thanks!  It’s an 18-55mm lens.

  • Alsacienne

    His ideas are replicated in words on the walls all across the memorial and even on the side of the statue itself.  You have to take in the entire memorial — not just the statue.  Just as in real life, a cursory look at a person (whether live or as a statue) says little about who that person is…

  • Anonymous

    Unable to comprehend contradiction, plurality, complexity…  like creating a statue of a black man from white stone?

    I think it’s a beautiful statue.  Seen from different angles than the one picture with this article, you can see more kindness in his face.  Quiet strength.  Peaceful determination.  I don’t think the color of the stone matters, except it’s easier to see the details and shadows with white stone.

  • Susan Lamb

    Dr. Martin  Luther King! What are we looking for as a token of his greatness? Compassion for his fellow human being !

  • http://twitter.com/ReneCastro95 Rene Castro

    That is a misconception that the civil rights movement was only in the U.S. What is taught only shows progress in the U.S. but both MLK and Malcolm X made changes throughout the world during this time. If you don’t believe me do a little research and you will discover how far his message went while he was alive. 

  • Chris Hopf

    Reporting that people are unhappy with this sculpture because a Chinese artist designed it is irresponsible journalism.  Unpaid Chinese labor was brought in for the project when American workers had been commissioned for it, something King would have been against.  His message of equality in labor (for all–he was not only a civil rights activist) has been completely stripped from this statue, no doubt in thanks to the multi billion dollar corporations who funded it.  It is their message that this is meant to portray, NOT King’s.  They are using a hero’s foundation to sell cheap crap in a gift shop and water down his message so it says what they want it to say.