Not Feeling It: Critics Did Not Embrace Boston Sculpture Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Wife Coretta

It wasn’t a pretty picture when a new sculpture, honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was revealed last Friday.

Called “The Embrace,” the 22-foot bronze statue depicts the embrace of Dr. King and his wife, Coretta Scott King “hugging after Martin received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.” The reveal in Boston Common Park garnered much anticipation, but was met with negative reactions from many online viewers.

Black Twitter went in with what the sculpture really reminded them of, with jokes to keep you laughing.

Some viewers claim it reminded them of some acts that aren’t so noble.


Some online critics embraced it, urging others to understand and appreciate the work. “It’s an artist’s vision of an embrace come alive, not a photograph of a hug,” Marsha Warfield tweeted. “It evokes, it suggests, it depicts, it inspires…”

Created by the organization Embrace Boston, the sculpture was placed in Boston Commons, America’s first public park, according to the organizations website. The site also says the park is where Dr. King gave a speech before 20,000 people calling for the city to “live by its highest ideals.” While the placement of the sculpture holds historic context, viewers continued to express the dismay.

One Twitter user brought up the activist’s adultery towards Coretta in the 60s. Abby Libby called the piece “ugly and false.”

“There is no angle from which this statue looks good. No angle from which it does not give a weirdly sexual impression.”

The artist behind the piece said its the opposite. In an interview posted on CBS’ Sunday Morning‘s Twitter page, sculptor Hank Willis Thomas spoke on what inspired the piece. After looking through hundreds of images of Dr. King and Coretta, he came across one from the day of the civil rights leader winning the Nobel Peace Prize. He said, “There was an intimacy that wasn’t highlighted often,” Thomas said on CBS’ Sunday Morning. “I just love that image, him holding her with such glee.”