Controversy at the Foot of MLK’s Stone of Hope

A Plea for the Use of Soul Force When Advocating for Social Change

Photo by Sonder Quest on Unsplash

“Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”
— A line from King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech.

When I was in college, I competed in intercollegiate forensics. No, we didn’t get together to analyze blood splatters and describe crime scenes. That is just a nerdy word to say Speech and Debate.

A friend of mine wrote a speech she took to the circuit on the controversies surrounding the unveiling of MLK’s memorial in Washington.

In the words of Hampton Dellinger on The Atlantic, “apart from the poor reviews and errant paraphrasing, there is no question that the memorial had a star-crossed start. There was controversy over the sculptor, Lei Yixin, who was neither black nor American; his workers, who were non-union and apparently uncompensated; and the large financial payment demanded by King’s family for the right to portray him. To top it off, inclement weather scuttled the memorial’s official unveiling.”

She covered all the thorny issues surrounding the unveiling of the monument and covered concisely by Dellinger in the above paragraph. But from everything they talked about what struck me the most was the issue that people had with the Reverend’s pose.

I thought, “why would anybody care about his pose?” He was getting a giant memorial in Washington. Who cares if his pose made him look a little stern? You can read about how people thought he looked too aggressive in this NY Times article, Larger Than Life, More to Fight Over

The sculptor used the picture used in the article as inspiration to sculpt the monument. Under the gaze of Gandhi, MLK was crossing his arms in front of his desk, but he never stops emanating love and comfort — nurturing energy we rarely come across, and that is special when we do.

First Published on Moments. Read the rest here.


Carlos Garbiras
A hopeless optimist sorting the deeply ingrained neurosis of a hypervigilant and topsy-turvy upbringing in Colombia.
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