MLK Memorial Still Brews in Controversy for Building with Chinese Workers

While WW is busy fighting crime, I thought you would like to revisit this topic  the”Your Black World” July 2011 article since it is soon in coming. I think it is an outrage that the MLK Memorial looks Asian, appears angry, and is minus African American workers or artists!!

Peace Family,


MLK Memorial Still Brews in Controversy for Building with Chinese Workers

July 5, 2011 By Staff of Your Black World


Your Black World reports.

We have just two months before the August 28 celebration of a new memorial in Washington DC dedicated to the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The site will be four acres, and cost $120 million to construct.   The memorial continues on in spite of controversy about the builders choosing a sculptor from China.

The King family is in support of the use of a Chinese sculptor, leaving many American and African American artists disappointed that their talents were not used by the family.  There are also some who believe that the 30-foot likeness of Dr. King appears too confrontational, contrasting with King’s non-violent approach to Civil Rights.

Ed Jackson, executive architect of the Martin Luther King National Memorial, said that the King family approved the likeness created by Lei Yixin.

“I’ve seen probably 50 sculptures of my dad, and I would say 47 of them are not good reflections — that’s not to disparage an artist,” said Martin Luther King III. “This particular artist — he’s done a good job.”

The critics of this decision include a sculptor who was on an earlier team.  Also, academics, union members and others were angered by the decision to bring a group of Chinese workers to Washington to put the statue together.  Those who support the monument are working to deal with the criticism as they seek ways to raise the last $6 million needed to finish the project.

“He had already created … three additional sculptures of Dr. King’s head,” Jackson said, referring to past work that had been done by Lei.

Jackson then brought pictures of four different heads to two of King’s children, who chose Lei’s as the best of the group.

“The response was the first one,” King III said. “I informed them that this was the one that had generated all that controversy about their father looking confrontational. Martin said, ‘Well if my father was not confrontational, given what he was facing at the time, what else could he be?’”

Ed Dwight, a sculptor who’d been on the project earlier, said that he thought that Lei Yixin would help him, but not that he would be doing the job by himself.   Dwight claims that King would be insulted to hear that a sculptor from a Communist country would be working on his likeness.

“Dr. King would be turning over in his grave if he knew,” Dwight said. “He would rise up from his grave and walk into their offices and go, ‘How dare you?’”

There are also some who would argue that Dr. King, a man who fought for the rights of American workers, might be concerned about the exclusion of black and white American workers on the project.  Bringing Chinese workers across the world to work on a King memorial is an interesting reminder of corporate globalization that is taking place in America today.  Throughout the economic recovery, American workers have been the least to benefit, while the wealthy and corporations have done quite well.  Part of the reason for this division is due to the fact that wages are kept low by using workers overseas.

About Wonder Woman

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7 Responses to MLK Memorial Still Brews in Controversy for Building with Chinese Workers

  1. Shakara says:

    If the family chose this design over the others and are happy with it, what is the problem? It sounds like they liked this one best, and doesn’t sound like black people were excluded on purpose. All proposals were looked at and they chose this one. If the family, the people who were around him the MOST during his life, approves of it, who are we to say it’s not good enough or not right?

  2. Wonder Woman says:

    My problem is that it was supposed to be about Black hope, faith, and strength. Black work celebrating our history in this country and the message King stood and died for and we overlooked Black artists, did not work with them to develop something the family would approve and used an Asian? It does not bode well with me. It sends the wrong message to our kids and since we are paying for it, it should have been fmo us, for us, by us mostly.
    I love to work with others and be a responsible global citizen, but this goes a step too far over the edge.
    But that is just my opinion. I just cannot think he would be okay with it especially in these times with Balcks desperatly needing these type of jobs. We could have mentored new Black artists, created Black manufacturing but nada.

    • Shakara says:

      How can we say what he would want or be happy with? Who said it was only about Black hope and faith? Do we as a race own Dr. King’s image and what he stood for and therefore get to decide who be affected and touched by his message and who can cooperate in paying tribute to him and who can’t? Why is it wrong that Chinese (who are minorities and often discriminated against in this country as well) workers wanted to contribute to this art? They put forth sketches and were chosen by his own family. How is that a wrong message to kids? Who is to say they were not touched by his deeds as well? Was King’s message only limited to Black people? The family didn’t overlook the black artists, they just didn’t like their sketches. Are they supposed to automatically like them because they are Black? Not trying to be flip or smart but like I said, maybe I’m missing something…but wouldn’t it be wrong to exclude the contributions of someone just because they are not black? MLKIII said he was happiest with THIS sculpting, why is it wrong just because the person was Chinese?

    • Buena says:

      the world is full of suffering. It is also full of the orovceming of it so Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.” Hope keeps life alive.

  3. laurie says:

    “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character…” this should have been on his memorial!

  4. Bryan says:

    I will upload two photos. ONE is the ACTUAL photo the artist used to make this statue and the other of Dr. King, the Statue and chairman Moa.

    (actual photo used to create the statue–does it look like Dr King?)

    (above is a photo of King, the statue, and Chairman Moa) Does this looks like they overlaid Kings facemask over a Moa statue or am I wrong? The face is not REALLY Dr. Kings.

    Notice the eyes are DEFINITELY narrower, the forehead is broader and squarer, the upper lip is larger, the coat is classic Stalin/Moa military uniform.

    Communist cubist art always has the men standing tall in uniforms that “blouse out’ at the bottom with large pocket flap. Dr. King didn’t wear this kind of suit. BUT all of Moa’s statues and Stalin’s statues look exactly like this with the military style coats and stern look. THIS artist did the Moa statue in China, it is the artists preferred style. In the original photo, Dr Kings eyes look up in deep thought but in the statue they look menacingly down and to the side.

    This statue not only doesn’t look like Dr.King but doesn’t capture who he was. This is a statue of a communist dictator not a humble composed man who practiced Civil Disobedience.

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