Controversial New Martin Luther King, Jr. National Monument Opens to the Public

The site was set to open at about 11 a.m. EST. The opening kicks off a week of celebrations leading up to the official dedication of the $120 million memorial on Sunday, August 28.

Controversy over the 30-foot tall statue has emerged over the fact that it was sculpted by Chinese artist Lei Yixin.

Denver-based artist Ed Dwight, who was on an early planning team for the King memorial, said, "Dr. King would be turning over in his grave if he knew [the sculptor was from a communist country,]. "He would rise up from his grave and walk into their offices and go, 'How dare you?'"

The official name of the monument is the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Monument. The website for the monument has a virtual tour that can be taken by site visitors.

Among other complaints about the monument are those saying that Dr. King's face looks Asian. It's been added that the expression and demeanor of the status appears confrontational, as King's arms are folded.

That said, the statue's head was chosen by the late civil rights leader's children, Martin Luther King III and Bernice King. Given a choice between the currently used model of King's head, as well as three others Lei had created, the children chose the one on the monument.

Executive architect Ed Jackson, who presented King's children with the choices, said "I informed them that this was the one that had generated all that controversy about their father looking confrontational. Martin said, 'Well if my father was not confrontational, given what he was facing at the time, what else could he be?'"

Despite the complaints, Martin Luther King III complimented Lei's work. He said, "This particular artist — he's done a good job."

The memorial was in the making for over 15 years. Moves to create the monument began with a resolution signed in 1996 by President Bill Clinton to establish a memorial “honoring the life, the dream and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” on the National Mall. The groundbreaking for the memorial took place on November 13, 2006. This Sunday’s dedication, August 28th, will marks the 48th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, which he delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.

It sits on the National Mall near the Tidal Basin, between memorials honoring Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, and includes the aformentioned 30-foot-tall sculpture of King, as well as a 450-foot-long granite wall inscribed with 14 of King's quotations.

You can watch the virtual tour, embedded below.

Image Source: Video Capture

A new memorial to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. opened without fanfare on Monday morning, but with considerable controversy.

The site was set to open at about 11 a.m. EST. The opening kicks off a week of celebrations leading up to the official dedication of the $120 million memorial on Sunday, August 28.

Controversy over the 30-foot tall statue has emerged over the fact that it was sculpted by Chinese artist Lei Yixin.

Denver-based artist Ed Dwight, who was on an early planning team for the King memorial, said, "Dr. King would be turning over in his grave if he knew [the sculptor was from a communist country,]. "He would rise up from his grave and walk into their offices and go, 'How dare you?'"

The official name of the monument is the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Monument. The website for the monument has a virtual tour that can be taken by site visitors.

Among other complaints about the monument are those saying that Dr. King's face looks Asian. It's been added that the expression and demeanor of the status appears confrontational, as King's arms are folded.

That said, the statue's head was chosen by the late civil rights leader's children, Martin Luther King III and Bernice King. Given a choice between the currently used model of King's head, as well as three others Lei had created, the children chose the one on the monument.

Executive architect Ed Jackson, who presented King's children with the choices, said "I informed them that this was the one that had generated all that controversy about their father looking confrontational. Martin said, 'Well if my father was not confrontational, given what he was facing at the time, what else could he be?'"

Despite the complaints, Martin Luther King III complimented Lei's work. He said, "This particular artist — he's done a good job."

The memorial was in the making for over 15 years. Moves to create the monument began with a resolution signed in 1996 by President Bill Clinton to establish a memorial “honoring the life, the dream and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” on the National Mall. The groundbreaking for the memorial took place on November 13, 2006. This Sunday’s dedication, August 28th, will marks the 48th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, which he delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.

It sits on the National Mall near the Tidal Basin, between memorials honoring Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, and includes the aformentioned 30-foot-tall sculpture of King, as well as a 450-foot-long granite wall inscribed with 14 of King's quotations.

You can watch the virtual tour, embedded below.

Image Source: Video Capture

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Comments

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
As long as your treat him equally as a human being, I sincerely doubt MLK would care that the artist came from a communist country. Obviously, there are still many in this country who do not understand the message he was trying to preach.

Submitted by Karen Keefer (not verified) on
Anonymous is correct that those who question the origination of Dr. King's statue don't understand Dr. King's messages in the many years he fought for breaking down barriers to allow all God's children (i.e., all of us from all races, countries, backgrounds, etc.) to sit together in peace. One of his great statements is, "Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline." Seems as if some who complain about this great piece of work--long overdue--just don't get it!

Submitted by Roger James (not verified) on
Ms. Karen, I am curious to know if have done any research on the original artist Ed Dwight and how he was phased out of the project entirely. I have talked to both sides I hope you do the same. There is a lot that is not being mentioned or brought out on this entire project.

Submitted by Winfrey Young (not verified) on
In one article, the sculptor said, through his son because he doesn't speak English, that the monument's serious demeanor indicates that Dr. King is "thinking." Yixin is right! Dr. King is thinking 1) How in hell is a monument to me carved by an atheist Communist artist who did not have a clue who I was until he was handed the job of creating my monument! He's thinking 2) Why is the granite for my monument made from China, quarried by workers paid $2 per day, when I was murdered standing up for workers rights!! He's thinking 3) What a fitting monument to present to a native son/civil rights leader/Nobel Laureate. A sculpture "Made In China" and presented on our National Mall by a country with one of the worst human rights and civil rights records on this planet. Yep. Dr. King would be proud.

Submitted by CarolTM (not verified) on
Winfrey Young nailed it - could not have been said better!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Jesus was confrontational, yet much of the artwork of him is not. Nevertheless, it was his family's choice which must be respected. I lived through those times, was 20 when he was murdered. MLK was a wonderful leader of the civil rights movement. His legacy will live on with the memorial, and it will educate future generations of the importance of being judged not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character.

Submitted by whitney (not verified) on
My controversary is that they DID NOT use a African American artist to do it. Why pay the Chineses when we have accomplised black artist and sculpters to for fill the misssion. Just because we owe them money doesn't mean we have to pay them first regarding other projects.

Submitted by douglas4jesus (not verified) on
You are joking right?! African-American? Dr. King fought for PEOPLE to be free in America! Not Africans, Europeans or Asians....Americans. Why do racists hide behind the great man of God that fought all kinds of racism?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I see that some of you are still lost. Its a blessing that we have a memorial for Dr.King in the country we live in. He needs to be remember if a blackman did the sculpture or not. How many of you donated to the memorial while you are making negative comments.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
NO DISRESPECT, BUT DID THE (ASIAN) GUY THAT DID THE NEW MICHAEL CLARK DUNCAN...,UH....., I MEAN THE MLK STATUE IN D.C. EVER SEE A PICTURE OF THE MAN? ALTHOUGH THE SCULPTURE IS BOLD AND MODERN, FACE IT, IT DOESN'T LOOK ANYTHING LIKE THE MAN IT IS SUPPOSED TO DEPICT. ASIDE FROM THAT, ALL THIS BABBLE ABOUT AN ASIAN GUY BEING CHOSEN AS THE SCULPTOR INSTEAD OF SOMEONE OF A DARKER COLOR AMOUNTS TO NOTHING BUT PURE RACISM. CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG, BUT ISN'T THIS THE TYPE THING DR. KING FOUGHT AGAINST? I'M SURE HE WOULD APPRECIATE THE RECOGNITION EVEN THOUGH THE ARTIST IS OF A DIFFERENT RACE. NOW LETS MOVE ON TO BITCHING ABOUT JOHN MAYER PEFROMING AT MICHAEL JACKSON'S FUNERAL, SHALL WE? I GUESS JIMI HENDRIX IS DEAD, SO THERE WAS NO OTHER CHOICE. HOW DARE THE JACKSON FAMILY ALLOW ANYONE BUT AN AFRO-AMERCAN TO PEFORM AT MICHAEL'S FUNERAL. HOPE YOU CATCH MY DRIFT ON THIS ISSUE?????

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