A new $10m statue celebrating Martin Luther King Jr has been harshly mocked on social media and slammed as an “insult” to the family by a cousin of the late civil rights leader’s wife Coretta Scott King.
The 22-foot statue unveiled in Boston last week is supposed to depict a photograph of the couple embracing after MLK Jr learned he had won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.
Coretta King’s cousin Seneca Scott wrote in an article for online journal Compact Mag that the artwork “looks more like a pair of hands hugging a beefy penis than a special moment shared by the iconic couple”.
“Ten million dollars were wasted to create a masturbatory metal homage to my legendary family members — one of the all-time greatest American families,” Mr Scott wrote.
“How could anyone fail to see that this was a major dick move (pun intended) that brings very few, if any, tangible benefits to struggling black families?”
Mr Scott blasted the statue as as result of the “woke machine’s callousness and vanity”, and showed progressives were more interested in virtue signalling than helping Black Americans.
“So now Boston has a big bronze penis statue that’s supposed to represent black love at its purest and most devotional. This is no accident. The woke algorithm is racist and classist.”
The artwork, named The Embrace and designed by sculptor Hank Willis Thomas, shows four intertwined arms that form a heart from one view.
It was installed on Boston Common, near to where Dr and Mrs King met while studying in the city in the 1950s, and family members were invited to an unveiling last Friday ahead of MLK Day on Monday.
Son Martin Luther King III said during a dedication that his parents “loved this city because of its proud heritage as a hotbed of the abolitionist movement and its unique intellectual and educational resources”.
While many cracked vulgar jokes about the statue, others criticised the work for not depicting the couple in full.
Rasheed N. Walters, a columnist with the Boston Globe, wrote on Twitter: “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!”
Michael Knowles, a columnist with the Daily Wire, tweeted the statue was “ugly because it’s grotesque”.
“And it’s grotesque in precisely the way that so much of modernity is grotesque: it forgets that men are supposed to have heads and chests.”
Vernon Jones, a former Republican state lawmaker from Virginia, posted: “This is what liberal whites think of ML King & Coretta King and the Black community with this statue. Its disgusting. What an insult to everyone who believes in Dr King’s Dream.”
Speaking to the Boston Globe, Mayor Michelle Wu said the statue was intended to “to open our eyes to the injustice of racism and bring more people into the movement for equity”.