September 2, 2011

“Mao” like Mao than Martin

We still shy away from the personally monumental in this country, preferring most of our heroes symbolically represented (Washington Monument) or brought to human scale (FDR). Here we have the MLK Memorial in D.C. sculpted by an artist who also monumentalized Mao Tse Tung. The horrors.  But wait a moment, there IS a huge sculptural representation of a fallen leader….Lincoln, of course. Though the Lincoln Memorial statue is large, the sculpture maintained a humanity and a kindly paternal pose. MLK’s sculpture portrays a monumental, stern, and even defiant Martin Luther King. Somewhat at odds with the Jesus-like makeover the press has given him.  In fact, my children, when taught about MLK in school, thought he was a king because teachers and text refer to him as “Martin.”  “We’ve had a king, Mommy, Martin Luther!”  I stopped myself from telling them a Martin Luther had more influence on this country’s current state than they know …Anyway, the Tea Party will hate this memorial.

— Karen Hull

(photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.)

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Karen Donley
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