Monument honoring MLK and Coretta Scott King unveiled in Boston

A new monument honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his wife, Coretta Scott King, was unveiled in Boston Friday, ahead of Monday’s national holiday honoring the civil rights icon.

The 22-foot tall sculpture, named “The Embrace,” represents the hug between Dr. King and Coretta after he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

The $10 million bronze statue, designed by Hank Willis Thomas and MASS Design Group, now stands in the Freedom Plaza of the Boston Common, America’s first public park.

The Embrace Statue
“The Embrace,” the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial sculpture, at Boston Common in Boston, Massachusetts. Jan. 12, 2022. (Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

“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, the oldest son of Dr. King, said at the unveiling ceremony.

Dr. King met his wife Coretta in Boston in the 1950s while he was a doctoral theology student at Boston University and she was a student at the New England Conservatory of Music.

He began preaching in Boston, and eventually led a civil rights march from Roxbury to the Boston Common, where the statue now stands.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Hugs Wife, Coretta
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. hugs his wife, Coretta, during a news conference following the announcement that he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. (Bettmann via Getty Images)

“Whenever I’ve come to Boston in the past, I’ve always felt a powerful bond of solidarity with this first great American city,” King III said. “Of course, it is the city where my parents met and fell in love and decided to create a family. And in a way, I owe my very existence to Boston as the place my parents found each other.”

Paul English, an entrepreneur, spearheaded and invested in the Embrace project in 2017. The project’s co-chair, Rev. Liz Walker, consulted creators, artists and educators in order to find an artist and design for the structure.

The Embrace also has a digital experience through a self-guided app that allows visitors to learn about the monument, the Freedom Plaza and the Kings’ legacy.

The project’s executive director, Imari Paris Jeffries, said the statue not only signifies the important, unifying civil rights movement of the Kings, but it also represents a rarely told story of Black love.

“We want one of the messages that stay in people’s minds is that this is one of the few memorials in this country that is rooted on the story of a Black family, Black love,” Jeffries told CBS Boston.

At the unveiling, Yolanda Renee King, the Kings’ only granddaughter, called on attendees to continue her grandparents’ important, but “unfinished work.”

“This is the spirit we must keep as we commemorate the 37th Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday on Monday,” the teenager said. “Let’s make it a great day of community service. A day of brotherhood. A day of sisterhood. A day of using your platform for good. A day of love and healing in the spirit of this wonderful monument,” the 14-year-old King told the crowd.”

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