Two photos side by side. On the left is a statue made of bronze, depicting Martin Luther King Jr.'s arms around Coretta Scott King's shoulders, with only the arms sculpted. On the right is a black and white photograph of the two embracing.
Photo credit: CBS News/Getty Images

New monument honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King unveiled in Boston park

In memory of both figures’ legacy and work during the Civil Rights movement, Embrace Boston raised $8 million for the sculpture recently unveiled.


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Unveiled on Friday, Jan. 13, a new statue commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King, has taken residence in Boston Common park.

The bronze statue, titled “The Embrace,” depicts a famous photograph of King and his wife embracing after he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his nonviolent protests during the Civil Rights movement.

"It is a great honor to be a part of this unveiling ceremony for the memorial which truly signifies the bond of love shared by my parents," Dr. Martin Luther King III said at the ceremony.

King had met Coretta Scott in Boston in the 1950s, earning his Ph.D. in theology at Boston University. He would become a preacher in the city and in 1965, led 20,000 protestors in a civil rights march from Roxbury to the Common, where The Embrace stands today.

Following the assassination of King, Coretta would continue his legacy through the promotion of equality, peace, and advocacy for marginalized communities, including LGBTQ people, women, the poor, and children.

“I believe that the way in which she performed her role opened doors for people all over the world of every gender,” Hank Willis Thomas, the conceptual artist who designed the new monument, said to NBC News

“And I feel like we’re living in that, in kind of, the ripple effects, of her creativity, of her diligence, of her strength, her courage and her daringness today,” he continued.

Thomas spent five years developing the statue, choosing to imitate the iconic photograph as a metaphor for King’s legacy, carried decades after his death by his wife.

“When I submitted the proposal, I didn’t even think that we really had a chance,” Thomas said. “By the time it was approved, I guess I’ve just been on autopilot like, ‘OK — how do I just not get in the way of history?’ It really has been my mission over the past several years,” he continued.

The non-profit Embrace Boston, an organization dedicated to combating racism by creating cultural representations that challenge structural narratives, raised $8 million in funding to create the sculpture and an additional $2.5 million to preserve it.

Thomas' work has spread across over a dozen exhibitions and holds 13 public sculptures and artistic pieces aside from "The Embrace."

These exhibits include "Unity," a sculpture of the arm of an athlete pointing towards the sky in downtown Brooklyn, to "Raise Up" in Montgomery, Alabama, depicting South African miners lifting their arms as they undergo a humiliating physical examination.


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