Martin Luther King Memorial changes approved by U.S. Commission of Fine Arts


According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution among others, the 28-foot statue planned for the Martin Luther King Jr. national memorial won approval on Thursday from the U.S. Commission of Fine Art. You may remember that very commission rejected sculptor Lei Yixin‘s previous submission, comparing to Eastern Bloc statues of the Cold War era.

Here are a few excerpts from the AJC article:

  • Ed Jackson Jr., executive architect for the private foundation that is leading the effort, showed photographs of models with a less furrowed brow, a softer mouth and more detailed rendering of the hands.
  • At the same time, Jackson challenged critics who have said that King would not have struck such a pose. He then presented a photograph of King standing, arms crossed, much like the statue.
  • It came on a day when the organizer, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, was taking in $3.3 million at a fund-raising dinner at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta. That brings the total raised to nearly $95 million, foundation officials said.
  • The “stone of hope” containing the statue is to be hand carved out of 39 blocks of granite and will be partly made in China and then brought to the United States, where Lei will oversee the work of American artists.Johnson said most of the Memorial’s structure, including a wall and walkways, will be constructed from American granite, to be purchased with oversight by Angela Fortson, an African-American granite broker based in Stone Mountain.

I’m glad to see the project moving forward, having watched it go through many varied stages over the last decade or so. Having stood on the site where the project will be built, I can say that it will be a powerful image each April when the cherry blossom’s bloom around the time of Dr. King’s assassination.

These changes needed to be made. Some were concerned that the calls for change to the statue were a ploy to give American a “safer” King to visit in D.C. I see the image as more hopeful and it still portrays strength. The Commission and the artist got it right this time.

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