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What the Embrace means to Boston

The Embrace after its unveiling on the Common

Photo by Paulo Teixeira.

Paulo Teixeira watched the unveiling of the the Boston Common statue honoring Martin Luther and Corretta Scott King (based on a photo of them hugging after he got word he'd won the Nobel Peace Prize).

The actual unveiling is around 2:36:00 in the video:

GBH talks to people at the unveiling on what the memorial means for Boston.

WBUR has more.



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how will this been seen 100 years from now, assuming it hasn't been plundered for the bronze, or not seen among lifeless ruins?

The sculptor has some previous powerful work, but in this case we are dealing with real historical people, not concepts.


Likes butts.


People will still take the ferry to see it.


Looks like it's time to make this a permanent home for the campaign.


From certain angles, this does not look like what the artist thinks it does.


That is my worst nightmare. Free hugs.


Looks like it could come alive and run after you (like Thing) and grab you.


I didn't realize this was a ticketed event.

Laughably bad. Is this from his famous “I have a nightmare” speech ? What the fuck is this thing ? Time for a refund .
Artists needs to realize that just because they have a vision, it doesn’t mean everyone else will be able to see it


You can find that photo from a certain angle showing,
. . well you can interpret it for yourself.

all over social media.

What was the process for approving this? I remember it took years for the small memorial to the Vendome Hotel firemen to be approved, with public comments.

This thing is massive. Was there any public notice of the design and the size of the thing, or was it just railroaded through on a wave of sentiment and politics?

EDIT: I guess it all went through the Arts Commission


Not everyone thinks it is an "object of mockery", and perhaps those who do are saying more about themselves than they are about the sculpture.

Whether that's fair or not, I don't know. I haven't gone to see it yet, so my judgment is pending.

I do have some questions.

A place on the Common is scarce. Was The Embrace the best way to memorialize MLK and Coretta Scott King in that place? They were real people, not abstracted arms.

In 50, 100 years will it be recognized for whom and what it was meant to represent, or just have some nickname like "the arms?"

Is the rather obscure unelected Arts Commission an adequate body and forum for something at that scale and intended permanence?


I do have some questions.

I have questions too, but I'll limit myself to one: do you always express this level of concern over any piece of public art? Or just certain ones?

As a matter of fact, I've commented on other works, especially the poorly maintained ones in the MBTA. Disgraceful.

The Irish Famine memorial is a bit cheesy

The Lincoln and the freed slave they got rid of was always weird, glad it's gone but need another statue of Lincoln in the city

Holocaust Memorial ok, but I think a lot of people don't know the history, needs some nearby panels.

I think this work should have included the faces. People around the world have an opinion, why not here on UH?


...what's the nature of your artistic critique. It strikes me that this is a monument that's hard to depict well in photographs, and the one here is particularly bad. Have you seen it up close in person? Are you upset because it depicts arms and not heads?

I'm also wondering how asking about your concerns about public art -- which you have expressed persistently and at great length in this comment thread -- is an "ad-hom".

Well, if you consider the speed the MBTA runs to be typical for a railroad, then maybe?

The current effort started at least as early as 2017 after prior efforts (including 2008) failed to produce a monument: https://www0.bostonglobe.com/business/2017/09/19/boston-mayor-help-tech-...

The 5 finalists in the request for designs were made available in September of 2018:




The plans are now on view at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square and the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal building in Dudley Square until Oct. 16, where the community can offer input. MLK Boston will also be taking public comment on its website.

The final design was announced in March of 2019: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/king-boston-memorial

You mentioned the Vendome memorial, which did take quite some time to be built, though it was completed about 25 years after the tragic fire, while the King memorial was built about 55 years after his assassination, and even a couple years longer from when his historic work in Boston took place.


I guess it could be better than the alternatives.

It's too bad figurative work above the shoulders didn't make an appearance

instead of $20 million for an abstract statue; perhaps, use that money to keep the harriet tubman house open:

; or,

saving this church that martin king guest pastored at in the past:



A more traditional statue of Dr. and Mrs. King hugging would have been nice. Would have made it clearer to passersby who is being honored. Certainly would have been cheaper. 10 million dollars on a feel good message that completely removes the man being honored unless you read the plaque, that also looks ridiculous from any angle but one.

They could've gotten a "normal" cheaper statue for a million and spent the 9 million left over to actually help Black folks in this city who are STILL feeling the generational impacts of bussing, redlining, BPS's chronic incompetence, etc. Black people in this city have an average household worth of EIGHT DOLLARS and we're spending ten million dollars on an ugly statue.

White liberals love honoring Dr. King without actually doing anything to help implement his message.