The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial is set to be officially dedicated on Sunday, with lingering controversy still surrounding both the statue and a quote from King.
The monument to the slain civil rights leader was due to have been unveiled on August 28, the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington when King delivered his world-altering “I Have a Dream” speech, but Hurricane Irene forced the event to be postponed.
President Barack Obama is expected to speak at the ceremony on Sunday.
King’s son has praised the memorial.
“The very first time that I came to the site, I was almost overwhelmed,” Martin Luther King III said. “I really was impressed by this artist. He was able to capture the essence of my dad.”
But sculptor Ed Dwight, who has made seven statues of King, objects to the memorial’s depiction of the icon — and to the artist chosen to create it.
“This idea of having this 30-foot-tall sculpture of this man, and this confrontational look, he would not appreciate that, because that was not him,” Dwight argues.
He also objects to the choice of Chinese artist Lei Yixin.
“I feel strongly that the whole thing should’ve been done here in America,” Dwight said.
Harry Johnson Sr., head of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Foundation, said: “We got the best man for the job.”
And Lei, for his part, said America did not have sole claim on King.
“Martin Luther King is not only a hero of America, he’s also a hero of the world,” he said.
Celebrated poet and author Maya Angelou has a different objection to the memorial, saying that one of the quotes has been edited to make King appear arrogant.
It reads: “I was a drum major for justice peace and righteousness.”
Angelou says an important clause was taken out of the passage from a 1968 sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
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Article courtesy cnn.com