MLK Memorial

Our theme of today is “doing more with less” – something the Reverend was quite good at.

On the Monday after the memorial dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Washington Mall, the psychological template that King battled in his civil rights campaigns continues to show itself today, in dissenters to the memorial. Americans are arguing over the creator and origin of the memorial: a Chinese master sculptor Lei Yixin, “who has made dozens of heroic depictions of Mao Zedong, the brutal founder of Communist China,” and the Dingli Stone Carving Co. (located in Chongwu, Fijian, which is appraised as the “Carvings Capital of China”).

Now, the issues people have with it are philosophical. A) It is understood that “a sculptor’s job is to simply put into stone the vision of a patron;” people believe that a Chinese man closely tied to a Chinese Communist regime cannot accurately channel the vision of Dr. King’s words, legacy, and influence into a memorial. B) As a piece of art, a memorial will forever be “the reflection of its creator;” as a memorial that is supposed to be a statement for American equality in a democratic republic, an American should have been the creator.

Now, to make these statements is clearly to struggle as a student of Dr. King, Jr. You might chose to say that a Chinese nationalist – never exposed to the freedom of democracy as a humanistic experience, devoid of the breath, sight and smell of republican freedom – could never stream King’s vision into a piece of stone. But that would be denying his global influence and expansive legacy, and confusing his Dream with the an egotistical interpretation of the capitalist-driven American Dream. He was a civil rights leader, not a black civil rights leader. His Dream was more than civil liberties: many don’t realize the trip to Memphis that is the scene for his assassination was made to argue for economic equality for sanitation workers looking to unionize. Many do remember his work being filled with references from the teachings of Gandhi, taken from the man’s work in the Indian independence movement. During his lifetime, he inspired Albert Lutili, a civil rights activist in South Africa, who cited him as he worked in the Black Conciousness and Civil Rights Movements in Lutili’s own country. Possibly the greatest symbol of King’s expansive influence? Look at the color of the faces at the Lincoln Memorial, August 28th, 1963.

To say that a Chinese man cannot carve the subtle power and presence that glowed about King, is to not believe in his teachings or respect his dream for his children:

“I have a dream that someday my children will not be judged by the color of their skin but, by the content of their character”

Source: From China, with love?
Pictures of the memorial: Martin Luther King Memorial,



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