MLK Memorial to be sculpted by Chinese…

I had to go here…I heard about it this morning and thought it to not only be comical, but sad at the same time. 

Apparently, a Chinese Sculptor was chosen to sculptthe MLK Memorial but to add insult to injury, even the granite used will come from China!  Now don’t get me wrong, but I just don’t see why an American sculptor wasn’t used or at least the granite come from America!  You know the country where Dr. King actually worked, died, and is being immortalized in the Nations capital!

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how costly importing granite from China would cost, but get this:  An American granite firm offered the granite at cost!

A good link for more info is:

Transcript from Lou Dobbs on CNN:

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Martin Luther King was a man who rose from the red clay of Georgia to profoundly shape his country. His legacy is now being honored on the Washington National Mall with a monument. The memorial, known as the Stone of Hope, will be the first honoring an African-American and it will be carved by a Chinese sculptor using Chinese stone in communist China.

GILBERT YOUNG, WWW.KINGISOURS.COM: We have a moral right and obligation to create this memorial from a black perspective, so the world can see our artistry and what Dr. King really fought for.

TUCKER: So far, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation has raised $78 million of the needed $100 million to complete the project. $10 million of those are taxpayer funds.

The foundation’s board, which is 90 percent African-American, declined our request for an interview, but did give us this statement. Quote: “Those who built America’s Mall drew on the talents of the world. Dr. King would be pleased that the memorial project is holding truth to his words — that we are judging people not by the color of their skin but the content of their character.”

Yes, but…

BARBARA ANDREWS, NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM: While pleased about the larger world situation in which a Chinese artist could in fact sculpt Martin Luther King, I think he would be disappointed to know that an African-American artist and/or an American was not chosen.

REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: It’s time I see another event honoring Dr. King by those who did not know him or walk with him. They get further and further away from the authentic or from the original. We must fight for the authenticity of the Martin Luther King that lived, that we knew.

TUCKER: Construction is scheduled to begin late this year.


TUCKER: And of course, the irony is cruel and inescapable — the contract for the stone and the statue of the man who birthed and led the civil rights movement here in America, Lou, goes, of course, to one of the world’s most oppressive regimes.

DOBBS: The cost of granite in the United States versus the cost of granite in China?

TUCKER: Not an issue. In fact, I spoke with a stone supplier today, a carver up in New England, who said they would have done any stone — mason in the country would have done it at mere cost, because they wanted to have that contract.

DOBBS: And what did Jesse Jackson mean, the authenticity of Martin Luther King? Does he believe it should have been an African- American artist?

TUCKER: Yes. Yes, he believes it should have been an African- American artist here in America, who has a connection to the legacy of Dr. King.

DOBBS: Thank you very much. Bill Tucker, appreciate it.

The last monument to be built on the Mall was the World War II memorial. That memorial, which opened to the public in 2094, built using 100,000 cubic feet of granite. The primary contract supplier for the memorial: New England Stone. It placed a bid, by the way, we’re told, to build the Martin Luther King memorial, but never received a response from the Martin Luther King memorial people.

The company says, quote — “Given that there are over 50 active granite quarries domestically offering a full palette of colors, it boggles one’s mind to think the selection committee couldn’t find an American stone to represent one of the greatest Americans of the 20th century.”

We found there is, in fact, plenty of granite produced in this country. In 2005, the United States produced 416 metric tons of the stone, valued at more than $100 million. And by the way, this building we’re broadcasting from tonight, the Time Warner Center, home to our studios here, built with granite from New England Stone. Not exactly a small project either.

Americans — well, they’ve got plenty to say about plans to honor one of America’s greatest civil rights icons with a memorial made in communist China. The groundbreaking for the monument is set for December 2008. We’ll continue to bring you all of the latest developments.

Let’s listen to what some of those folks had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It should be done by an American artist with American stone in America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Martin Luther King is American, so it should be here, not in China.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he did helped the entire world, so it doesn’t matter where it comes from.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Martin Luther King was here. He wasn’t in China. It should be built here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I’m all in favor of the statue of Martin Luther King, but I think it ought to be made by an American artist.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Martin Luther King did things here in America, but it’s affected everyone worldwide. So if it’s done in China, I don’t think that’s a problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It should be done by an American artist.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Importing something all the way from China for what it is an American monument just doesn’t make any sense.


DOBBS: You know, I’ve just got an idea for everybody to consider here. Why not have the Chinese government build their own monument to Martin Luther King in Beijing, in advance of the Olympics? It would be a great statement. It would honor the internationalism that the Martin Luther King people talked about, their committee. And let’s find an African-American, an American artist, and use a little of that stone here. Everybody would be happy. We’ll see.

That brings us to the subject of our poll. Do you believe the memorial to the icon of this country’s civil rights movement should be crafted by an American artist and created of American stone? We would love to hear what you think about this. Send your votes to us at Yes or no? We’ll have the results upcoming.



  1. MLK fought and died for the civil rights for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity or sex so race, ethnicity or sex should not be the determining factor when chosing the artist. However, it doesn’t make economical sense to go outside the country for materials that are available here. The working, middle class (the status he was striving to achieve for the poor)is fast disappearing so I think he might be disappointed that we went outside the U.S. to acquire the granite.


  2. Well, from what I know of history, MLK fought for civil rights for black people in America who were “citizens” but denied their civil rights. It was great that many were able to benefit from his and others efforts, but the movement was started and created to grant freedom, justice, and equality for black people in America. Therefore, many blacks, including myself, feel that it would make more of a statement if his memorial was created by the people from whom he came from, were his greatest benefactors, and the source and reason for his struggle. Do you think the Chinese would accept a black man sculpting for a memorial of Mao? I just think it’s a little unfair for some to want blacks to not care about their cultural identity, heroes, and icons enough to feel that they shouldn’t be the first in memorializing them, just because their leaders had a message that all could benefit from. Some of the very same people claiming MLK as their own, were calling him a terrorist for daring to want blacks to be equal many years ago.


  3. I dont see why we dont use american granite, but as far as the chinese man helping with the project, why not. Apparently he was suggested by one of the many african americans already on the project. The chinese are still very oppressed by their government today, so its not like they dont know where mlk was
    coming from or what he was all about. To demand almost exclusive inclusion of one race at the expense of another is
    ridiculous, especially when the overall message is one of acceptance.


  4. Actually, the artist was picked at a trade show against the consultation of the original artist whom they chose then decided to keep on as a consultant, then mysteriously let go. The granite was part of the package that came with the artist. This deal has everything to do with money and less to do with the spirit of what the memorial is supposed to be. How else can you explain that an American Granite company offered to sell their granite at cost, yet the Chinese Granite was picked instead? Most even say the statue so far doesn’t even look like King. Either way, black people are pissed to know that on of our greatest heroes from our community has had his memorial outsourced. I don’t expect non-blacks to understand but how can you truly expect us to be OK with this? Black people died and bled following King who was ultimately assassinated himself for the cause of liberating black people. Revisionist historians have used his legacy to mean more, broaden it, and while that isn’t bad in of itself, what is bad is that people want to disassociate him with the plight of black people.


  5. To all who have taken the time to write about this issue, my husband Gilbert Young and I salute you. Your responses tell us that we were right when we sat down to write the commentary “A Chinese Martin Luther King,” last March. We knew we would not stand alone. We thank you all for spreading the word.

    We’d like you to know more of the facts. You must make sure you have your facts straight. There was a competition for the DESIGN of the monument/memorial. More than 900 entrants (each paying $75 to apply) hoped to win the chance to immortalize King in D.C. The ROMA group, a white owned firm out of San Francisco, won the “blind” competition. They were assisted with their entry. Dr. Clayborne Carson, director of the King Research Institute, assisted them–and they won. The sculptor from Communist China, Lei Yixin was CHOSEN. There was NO competition for the sculptor. In fact, Lei Yixin was originally brought onto the project as a sub-contractor. Ed Dwight, who is African American, created the original models for the monument. So when you hear people say “Have you seen this artists work? It’s STUNNING. MASTERFUL. MOVING…” those people are actually complementing Ed Dwight.

    Yixin was brought in to take the model from a 12 inch maquette to a monumental granite sculpture, which he is known for. The dirty part of all of this is that after years of working with the King Foundation, Ed Dwight was kicked to the curb. The contract–along with the designation “Artist of Record” meaning he could put his name on it–went to Yixin along with a contract for Chinese granite. This isn’t about Dr. King being “a man for all people.” We all know that. But guess what…All people were not for King. Which is why he died on that balcony fighting for the end of Jim Crow, segregation, racism, prejudiced busing, church bombings, lynchings and all the rest. The next time you want to include “all the world” in admiration of King’s philosophy, take a look at the donor list on the King monument site and write down the names of the foreign countries that have donated to the King Monument.

    Listen, you all are charged with the task of carrying on and preserving the legacy, history and culture of African American people. What better way than to claim the right to present OUR history the way WE see fit so that the world will finally come to recognize who we are and what contributions we make to this world.


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