Cousin of MLK Jr’s wife Coretta Scott King blasts divisive new $10m Boston sculpture honoring icon


The cousin of Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife, Coretta Scott King, has called the newly-unveiled statue celebrating the civil rights icon a ‘woke’ waste of money. 

The 20-foot-high piece ‘The Embrace’ depicts the famous hug between the two civil rights leaders after MLK Jr. learned he had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. 

Seneca Scott, King’s cousin and a failed candidate for mayor of Oakland in 2022, spoke out against the statue Sunday. 

He claimed that ‘ten million dollars were wasted’ on the statue of his cousin’s late husband, who he described as being members of ‘one of the all time great American families’. 

A bronze sculpture honoring Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King that depicts the famous hug between the couple, was unveiled in Boston Friday, but is receiving mixed reviews

‘The woke algorithm is just broke, I don’t know what else to tell you,’ he told the New York Post. ‘If you went through all of that and that’s what you came up with, something’s wrong.’

He was responding to the artist behind the sculpture, Hank Willis Thomas, who said: ‘When we recognize that all storytelling is an abstraction, all representation is an abstraction, hopefully it allows us to be open to more dynamic and complex forms of representation that don’t stick us to narrative that oversimplifies a person or their legacy, and I think this work really tries to get to the heart of that.’

Scott, whose grandfather’s brother was Coretta Scott King’s father, said he only met King once at a family reunion prior to her death in 2006. 

‘It’s doubly insulting to the black community, who still on average … too many of us are below the poverty line,’ Scott said, calling for the sculpture to be melted down. 

‘You’re spending $10million on a bronze statue without heads on it? Man, it’s a joke. No performative, no photo ops, put your phone down and go do [an act of service] that no one knows about,’ he added.

The $10 million artwork shows two disembodied sets of arms, with no heads, sparking confusion among many art fans, and followers of the civil rights icon.  

Some King family members were among the large crowd that turned out for a ceremony at the Freedom Plaza of the Boston Common where the piece was shown off for the first time – featuring only the couple’s interlocking arms. 

Seneca Scott, the cousin of Martin Luther King Jr.'s wife, Coretta Scott King, has called the newly-unveiled statue celebrating the civil rights icon a 'woke' waste of money

Seneca Scott, the cousin of Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife, Coretta Scott King, has called the newly-unveiled statue celebrating the civil rights icon a ‘woke’ waste of money

The 20-foot-high piece 'The Embrace' depicts the famous hug between the two civil rights leaders after MLK Jr. learned he had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964

The 20-foot-high piece ‘The Embrace’ depicts the famous hug between the two civil rights leaders after MLK Jr. learned he had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964

Several people online questioned the artist’s decision not to include the couple’s heads. 

But others were moved by the piece, which pays tribute to the iconic couple who fell in love in Boston, and then went on to make a difference in the world. 

The sculpture is one of the country’s largest memorials dedicated to racial equity, a privately-funded King Boston organization said last year. 

It was designed by Thomas and MASS Design Group and was selected out of 126 proposals and installed on the Boston Common not far from where King led a rally and march in 1965.

When photos and video of the sculpture debuted online, some Twitter users were confused by the art. 

Scott, King's cousin and a failed candidate for mayor of Oakland in 2022, spoke out against the statue Sunday

Scott, King’s cousin and a failed candidate for mayor of Oakland in 2022, spoke out against the statue Sunday

People stand near the 20-foot-high bronze sculpture "The Embrace," a memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, in the Boston Common

People stand near the 20-foot-high bronze sculpture ‘The Embrace,’ a memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, in the Boston Common

One Twitter user slammed the sculpture for not honoring the original photo

One Twitter user slammed the sculpture for not honoring the original photo 

Boston residents gathered to witness the unveiling of the sculpture which cost $9.5 million

Boston residents gathered to witness the unveiling of the sculpture which cost $9.5 million

One user said it was the angle that some were seeing, not the statue in its entirety, that made it appear strange. 'It¿s unfortunate that our first sighting after the unveiling is the worst possible angle,' the user wrote. 'Here¿s what we should have seen'

One user said it was the angle that some were seeing, not the statue in its entirety, that made it appear strange. ‘It’s unfortunate that our first sighting after the unveiling is the worst possible angle,’ the user wrote. ‘Here’s what we should have seen’

One Twitter user called it a ‘horrible sculpture’ while another tweeted that it did not translate well. 

‘This is awful,’ the British rapper Zuby added. 

One user shared an image of the piece that showed it at a better angle. 

‘It’s unfortunate that our first sighting after the unveiling is the worst possible angle,’ the user wrote. ‘Here’s what we should have seen.’

Another user slammed the sculpture for not honoring the original photo. 

Scott, whose grandfather's brother was Coretta Scott King's father, said he only met King once at a family reunion prior to her death in 2006

Scott, whose grandfather’s brother was Coretta Scott King’s father, said he only met King once at a family reunion prior to her death in 2006

‘The original photo this inspired was beautiful and perfect. Why not just honor that with a replica instead of this horrible odd weirdly sexualized bronze blob… #mlksculpture #MLK.’

Another wrote: ‘Finally some feel good news. Beautiful sculpture. Thanks for sharing!’

The sculpture was unveiled as part of annual tributes and commemorations of the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which began nationwide Friday.

The massive monument consisting of four intertwined arms was dedicated Friday in Boston, where the leader first met his wife. 

The civil rights leader and his wife first met in Boston in the early 1950s, when he was a doctoral student in theology at Boston University and she was studying at the New England Conservatory of Music.

‘They both loved this city because of its proud heritage as a hotbed of the abolitionist movement and its unique intellectual and educational resources,’ their son, Martin Luther King III, said during the dedication. 

‘And indeed, Boston became a place where they forged a partnership that would change America and make a powerful contribution to the Black freedom struggle. That’s what I see in this beautiful monument.’

‘They both loved this city because of its proud heritage as a hotbed of the abolitionist movement and its unique intellectual and educational resources,’ their son, Martin Luther King III, said during the dedication. 

‘And indeed, Boston became a place where they forged a partnership that would change America and make a powerful contribution to the Black freedom struggle. That’s what I see in this beautiful monument.’

Yolanda Renee King, who never met her grandparents, said she and everyone else are challenged to ‘carry forward’ the couple’s ‘unfinished work.’

‘This is the spirt we must keep as we commemorate (the King holiday),’ the 14-year-old said, as those in attendance cheered. ‘Let’s make it a great day of community service; a day of brotherhood, a day of sisterhood; a day of using your platform for good; a day of love and healing in the spirt of this wonderful monument.’

It was designed by Hank Willis Thomas and MASS Design Group and was selected out of 126 proposals and installed on the Boston Common not far from where King led a rally in 1965

It was designed by Hank Willis Thomas and MASS Design Group and was selected out of 126 proposals and installed on the Boston Common not far from where King led a rally in 1965

Imari Paris Jeffries, executive director of EmbraceBoston, the organization behind the memorial, noted the significance of the sculpture’s placement at the Boston Common, America’s oldest public park and a high traffic area with millions of city residents and visitors walking its paths every year.

‘I think Boston has this reputation of being this city of heroes and abolitionists, like W.E.B. Du Bois and Frederick Douglass, simultaneously with this reputation of not being friendly and in some cases being described as racist. So there’s this tension between these two images of Boston. Having the memorial there is part of our intention to transform our city’s perspective.’

The organization is also raising money to build an economic justice center in the city’s historically Black neighborhood where MLK preached.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk