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Critics Say Boston’s New MLK Statue Looks — um – ‘Phallic’

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The city of Boston has taken online and social media heat this weekend after unveiling a 22-foot bronze sculpture that celebrates the relationship between the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King.

Does Boston's MLK statue resemble a giant male appendage?

As his inspiration for “The Embrace,” artist Hank Willis Thomas selected a photo of the couple hugging after King learned he had won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.

“This work is really about the capacity for each of us to be enveloped in love, and I feel enveloped in love every time I hear the names and see the faces of Dr. King and Coretta Scott King,” Thomas told The Boston Globe.

For those who have seen the famous photo of the Kings embracing, it’s easier to visualize what Thomas was trying to accomplish.

For others, the gigantic bronze sculpture located in Boston Common, the nation’s oldest public park, represents different things, depending on the angle from which it is viewed.

The following are among the critiques from the public at large:

“Given that I am not White, I am safe from ANY charges of racism for saying the MLK embrace statue is aesthetically unpleasant. The famous photo should have been a FULL statue of the couple and their embrace. What a huge swing and miss in honoring the Dr. & Mrs. King. SAD!” tweeted Boston Herald columnist Rasheed N. Walters.

Comedian Javann Jones tweeted, “Show me a white man that was honored with a statue of only two of his limbs.”

“That MLK statue looks obscene from certain angles, but when you see the whole thing you realize it’s supposed to depict the result of Martin Luther King Jr. and [Coretta] Scott King having gone through the teleporter in The Fly together,” tweeted the Daily Wire’s Frank J. Fleming.

Seneca Scott, Coretta Scott King’s cousin, slammed the statue’s aesthetics in an essay for the online journal Compact.

“For my family, it’s rather insulting,” wrote Scott, while adding the “sculpture is an especially egregious example of the woke machine’s callousness and vanity.”

Scott later wrote: “Ten million dollars were wasted to create a [expletive] metal homage to my legendary family members — one of the all-time greatest American families. … How could anyone fail to see that this … brings very few, if any, tangible benefits to struggling black families?”

From the Twitter hashtag “#MLKsculpture,” here’s a sampling of comments regarding the MLK artwork:

From @kimKBaltimore: “Is it too late to add the heads? This is an eyesore. #mlksculpture”

From @AmandaHead: “Unpopular opinion: I like the #mlksculpture. Just kidding it’s hideous and 💯 looks phallic.”

From @PAReports: “The ‘Embrace’ sculpture of Dr. Martin Luther King embracing his wife Coretta when he won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize is quite dreadful. This had to go thru many drafts, eyes and approvals and everyone involved should be disappointed. #mlksculpture #MLKDay2023”

And from @ShireenQudosi: “The original photo this inspired was beautiful and perfect. Why not just honor that with a replica instead of this horrible odd weirdly sexualized bronze blob … #mlksculpture #MLK”

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