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New Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King sculpture called 'hideous': 'Fire whoever designed that'
January 16 2023, 08:00

A new bronze sculpture called "The Embrace" meant to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King was blasted by some onlookers as "hideous" after it was unveiled on the grounds of Boston Common over the weekend.

"The Embrace," featuring two sets of bronze arms locked in a hug, is meant to be a portrayal of the photo taken when MLK, Jr., found out he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. But while some praised the statue as being a "monument of love," many other social media users said it missed the mark. 

Critics agreed the statue was "horrible," "hideous," "awful," and worse.


Amaka Ubaka from 7 News Boston tweeted, "BREAKING: The bronze sculpture called ‘The Embrace’ honoring Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King has just been unveiled on the Boston Common #7news #MLKWeekend #MLKDay2023."

Former Pentagon official Amber Smith replied, "This is a horrible sculpture."

"Should have been lovely and inspiring - instead it's hideous and depressing," Christina Sommers, a conservative author, tweeted.

Conservative rapper Zuby agreed, tweeting, "This is awful."

Some shared the actual photograph to express their confusion over why the sculpture removed the couples' heads. 

"I'm so confused. Why remove the head?!" Obianuju Ekeocha, a pro-life activist, tweeted.

Samantha Sheldon, a podcaster, responded, "I actually agree with you. I think a monument of the true image, would have been slightly more honorable. #MLK The full image below would make more sense."

"The original photo this inspired was beautiful and perfect. Why not just honor that with a replica instead of this horrible and weirdly sexualized bronze blob… #mlkscultpure #MLK," Shireen Qudosi, a journalist who covers Islam, tweeted.

Youtuber Jay D. Cartere tweeted, "This is a terrible sculpture. It looks like someone grabbing a thigh. A very different kind of ‘loving emrace’".

"Would have been nicer to have it from the arms up. With the heads. It's Odd looking for sure," Jimmy Palmiotti, a writer and producer, wrote.

Clean Slate Films, an entertainment company, tweeted, "I'll bet it will look great when they finish it!"

Others took their frustration directly out on the artist. The sculpture was created by Hank Willis Thomas, who was selected in a competition by local nonprofit Embrace Boston.

Pop culture critic Jacob Airey tweeted, "Wow, they should fire whoever designed that."


The couple met in Boston as students in 1952, and Martin Luther King, Jr., gave a speech in Boston Common in 1965 after leading thousands of activists in a Civil Rights March. 

"It’s deeply significant that America’s oldest public park is installing a public monument that is a celebration of the profound role that our city played in the lives of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King," Keith Mahoney, vice president of communications and public affairs at The Boston Foundation, which partnered with Embrace Boston, said of the sculpture, according to Boston University.

"The work of Embrace Boston will continue after this, and its commitment to equity and to breathing life into a monument that’s a celebration of love is extremely hopeful and represents the dawn of an era of hope for our beloved city," he added.

It's not the first time that the sculpture of a famous figure has caused a commotion. In upstate New York, a statue of Lucille Ball was dubbed "Scary Lucy" because of its jarring features, which locals said did not do the quirky comedian justice. A new statue that appeared to placate critics was later unveiled in Lucille Ball Memorial Park in the western New York village of Celoron by sculptor Carolyn Palmer.

The earlier statue's creator, Dave Poulin, said that he received death threats over his creation. He apologized and called his sculpture "unsettling," but his offer to redo it for free was rejected.