In one of the most widely unreported national scandals, the Weekly Standard reports of the Martin Luther King family:
“We know the King family has endured much in these many decades, but the family’s insistence on getting paid $800,000 from the nonprofit foundation responsible for building the memorial, to use MLK Jr.’s words and likeness, is appalling.
“‘I don’t think the Jefferson family, the Lincoln family, or any other group of family ancestors has been paid a licensing fee for a memorial in Washington,’ Cambridge University historian David Garrow, author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of King, told the New York Post. ‘King would have been absolutely scandalized.’”
Is there any record that the descendants of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln or Franklin D. Roosevelt ever demanded or received large amounts of money for the erection of their ancestors’ monuments?
Was there any mention of the family’s demands in that alleged “newspaper of record,” the New York Times?
This should have been top-of-Page 1 and prime-time news all over this nation. But it was not, to the considerable shame of most of our media.
There was a critique of the monument itself from the Washington Post:
“Let’s face it: There really is something peculiar about having an artist from communist China sculpt the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial statue,” noted Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy – who is himself black.
And Milloy went on to write:
“And, yes, it would have been fantastic had an African-American sculptor been chosen instead.”
As one of the 25,000 people – the majority of whom were not black – who marched with Dr. King into Montgomery, Ala., on the final day of the Selma march, I am grateful to Milloy for questioning the sculptor selection from communist China. But I do not agree with his yearning for racial consideration in the selection process.
Milloy is commendable, however, in going on to write:
“The sculpture is based on a 1966 photograph of King taken in his office in Atlanta, standing at his desk, with a picture of Indian leader Mohandas Gandhi on a wall in the background. In it, King has soft eyes and an open face that conveys the blessed assurance of a man who walks by faith. Lei Yixin has turned those eyes into something of a steely squint. The result is a stern colossus, dressed no less in a style of suit similar to ones found on many statues of Stalin.
“The fact remains that Lei hails from a country that oppresses ethnic minorities, exploits its workers, and jails human rights activists and the attorneys who try to defend them. In their day, King and civil rights lawyer Thurgood Marshall would likely have been taken by the Red Guard and never heard from again.”
The Washington Post’s 24-page supplement devoted to this King memorial, quotes sculptor Lei as claiming that he recited Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in college in China. However, one article about King’s global influence, “In many cultures, his message resonates,” actually does note, “In China’s Tiananmen Square, student leaders held up signs that read, ‘We Shall Overcome,’ a key anthem of the civil rights movement.” The article by Emily Wax doesn’t explain that estimates of the number of dead peaceful protesters at the hands of that regime in that 1989 demonstration for human rights range from several hundred to thousands. Thousands more were injured or arrested.