New York state and local officials may soon vote to decide whether a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. statue in a city park should be replaced.
Samuel Herbert, an activist and chairman of the Coalition To Save MLK Park, in Buffalo, has gathered more than 6,000 signatures for a petition to erect a new Dr. King statue in the same place. He said the giant bust of Dr. King, which has been a fixture in the park for decades, doesn’t accurately depict the legendary civil rights leader, WIVB, a CBS affiliate, reported.
“We have allowed this distorted image to sit here for 35 years,” Herbert said. “Our beef has never been with the sculptor, but the committee that approved this shameful image of a great American.”
Herbert wants to collect 10,000 signatures and hopes the statue is replaced by 2020, he said.
As for which artist or how much artistic flair should go into the statue’s creation, Herbert has ideas about those things, too.
“I want that gentleman that did the work in Washington D.C. on the National Monument,” Herbert said. “A statue that looks just like Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. No abstract. No symbolism. Enough of symbolism, we want realism.”
Herbert was aware of the potential issues that he may face in pushing for the statue’s removal and replacement. He will have to focus on fundraising after getting his last anticipated signatures. Then, he may have to deal with legal challenges to the statue’s removal. But he said he was prepared for any court battle.
There are more than 25 statues, monuments and memorials to Dr. King across the world. There is no well-known or talked-about statue that depicts MLK’s famous kneeling prayer photo during a civil rights march in Selma, Alabama in 1965 — a powerful image that may become the inspiration behind a future Dr. King monument someday. Perhaps in Buffalo? Only time will tell.