I won’t likely get to personally visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, but am struck by its openness to sun, rain, sky, Dr. King emerging from a monolith, bringing a bit of Mt. Rushmore to Washington, DC.
But critics are out in force, some complaining that it was made in China. “Dr King would be turning over in his grave if he knew his likeness had been conceived by someone living under a Communist regime.”
In 1957 Dr. King said, “There are approximately two billion four hundred million people in the world.... and the vast majority are colored.” And by colored he meant African and Asian, so the Chinese genesis of his statue fulfills rather than denies his vision.
NY Times cultural critic, Edward Rothstein, doesn’t like the sculpture: “We don’t even see his feet. He is embedded in the rock like something not yet fully born... “ Rothstein doesn’t like other memorials either. ”The World War ii memorial seems almost phony,..” “...the Roosevelt Memorial diminishes that president and even implies that he was a pacifist... instead of a wartime leader ...”
Poet, Maya Angelou objects to an abridged quote of Dr. King’s words.
Critics criticize, and I roll with fireball notices like those hurled by Clive Barnes, NY Times theater and dance critic, who laid out his guts in print. A critic has a right to do that. I respect a critic who is knowledgeable and offers a personal response that invites the reader to ponder. If it tempts some to go see the work of art, bravo. Less admirable are those speak from intellectual pulpits, offering words of wisdom to the masses, or folksy patronizing that pretends to get down with them.
But now, critics, begone! It is time to share the joy of celebrating this extraordinary individual, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once dogged by the FBI, demeaned by cheap politicians, hated by racists, in his rightful place among America’s immortals. He also happens to be one of the four best-known Americans ouside of America. The other three are Mohammad Ali, Oprah Winfrey, and Barack Obama.