Text by Meaghan O' Neill, Architectural Digest
In 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. returned to the city where he and Coretta Scott went to graduate school and first met. On that trip, he declared to his audience that “Boston must become a testing ground for the ideals of freedom.” In 2017, King Boston, a privately funded effort working closely with the City of Boston, heeded that call when it asked for submissions for a memorial in the Kings’ honour on Boston Common, the site of many historic marches and protests.
Today, King Boston, which is also supporting a documentary film and additional programming that promotes equity, has announced the winner: conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas and MASS Design Group, perhaps best known for their work on the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.
Called The Embrace, the 22-foot-tall sculpture represents the hands of King and Scott King, evoking images of the couple—and other protesters—arm-in-arm in peaceful marches for civil rights as well as the power of physical togetherness in declaring resistance against injustice. “The Embrace” also embodies Scott King’s emphasis on the transformative power of empathy—and putting it into action. Visitors to the sculpture will be readily reflected in its mirror-finish bronze, making them part of the installation.
Feature Image: Hank Willis Thomas and MASS Design Group/King Boston