His memorial stands as he did in real life — resolute, bold, set apart, looking forward and having endured waves of opposition and trouble.
The adversity and controversy itself befits a statue honoring Martin Luther King Jr. The choice of a Chinese artist and stone, and King’s likeness and stance upset many who supported the idea of a memorial. An earthquake shook it, and a hurricane delayed its dedication.
Whether or not one is disturbed that an artist from a communist country produced this work, or that King stands with arms crossed instead of with palms open, the statue stands as a reminder of King’s role as a loud and persistent voice against injustice, immovable in his stance.
The block bearing King’s image is cut from a mound of granite, which itself remains in the background. The image is hewn from the “I Have a Dream” speech, in which King, after quoting from the book of Isaiah, said that “with this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”
That speech was delivered 48 years ago, less than a half-mile from where King’s likeness now stands. For generations who never saw King in life but whose lives have been enriched by his legacy, may this memorial stand as a reminder of King and remain a “stone of hope.”
Loveland (Colo.) Daily Reporter-Herald (Sept. 7)