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Fight Over Design Of Martin Luther King Statue

Chinese artist Lei Yixin is working on the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. 

Above is a picture of the planned Martin Luther King statue for the Martin Luther King National Memorial on the Mall in Washington.

(Here is my Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List. It is the best list of its kind on the web.)

The man you see in the photo is sculptor Lei Yexin.

The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which must approve all statues for the Mall, has said it does not like the statue.

( Update 5/18/08–Here is a very good New York Times story on this subject. It discusses the King statue and the politics of putting new things on the Mall.)

From a Washington Post story— 

The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts thinks “the colossal scale and Social Realist style of the proposed statue recalls a genre of political sculpture that has recently been pulled down in other countries,” commission secretary Thomas Luebke said in a letter in April…..

It is the second time in recent months that the memorial to the slain civil rights leader has come under fire. Last year, critics complained after a Chinese sculptor known for his monumental works of figures such as Mao Zedong was selected to create King and other elements of the memorial in China.

The $100 million memorial, which is being built largely with private donations by the Washington, D.C., Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, is planned for a crescent-shaped four-acre site among Washington’s famed cherry trees on the northwest shore of the basin. Construction is expected to start this year and end next year.

The centerpiece is to be a 2 1/2 -story sculpture of the civil rights leader carved in a giant chunk of granite. Called the Stone of Hope, it would depict King, standing with his arms folded, looming from the stone. At 28 feet tall, it would be eight feet taller than the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial.

I imagine the statue is not the soft image of Martin Luther King that has become the myth of his life with some. And I do see how the sculpture could be taken as something out of a dictatorship.

Still, I hope that whatever design is finally approved retains some of the discipline, and even harshness, found in King’s message of non-violence and divine review of America’s actions at home and in the world.

I also hope these objections are not a way at getting at the ethnicity of the artist. There has been controversy over the fact that Lei Yexin is Chinese. Martin Luther King would have accepted a sculptor of any race to honor his life’s work.      

May 12, 2008 Posted by | Art, Martin & Malcolm | , , , , | 4 Comments

How Will Alabama Vote In The 2008 Presidential Election—Views, Facts & History

How will Alabama vote in the 2008 Presidential election?

The odds are good that this deeply misguided state will cast its nine electoral votes for the Republican candidate. 

( Above you see a marker with the state motto of Alabama. Make of it what you will.)

It is not for me to give up on people. I don’t have any final call on who can be redeemed and who can not.

But I must say that Alabama is a place I have largely given up on.

This is because of a 2003 statewide referendum in Alabama.

In this vote, the people rejected a proposal by conservative Republican Governor Bob Riley to provide more funding for education, bring about a more equitable state tax scheme, and raise taxes on some people, though not all people, in Alabama. The initiative was also supported by Alabama Democratic Party.

Governor Riley cited a New Testament instruction to “take care of the least among us” as part of the reason he supported this measure.  

The plan was rejected 67% -33%. 

Do you imagine that Alabama has good educational results and a fair tax structure?  

What can you do with such a place? The people made the call about how that want to live and what values they have.

There are many good people in Alabama I am sure. I am sure these folks are tying their best.

Still, Alabama it’s John McCain territory all the way.

For many years Alabama voted Democratic as part of the “Solid South” of former Confederate states.

Alabama switched to supporting Republicans in seeming response to the Civil Rights movement.   

In 2004, whites in Alabama voted 80% 19% for George W. Bush while blacks voted 91%-6% for John Kerry.

It’s a clear and unfair simplification to say all whites who voted for Mr. Bush in Alabama are racist.

Yet the history of this state is there for all to consider.

Here are some basic facts about Alabama in Presidential elections—

2006 Population Of Alabama—4.599 Million, 23rd in population, 70% white, 26% black, 2% Hispanic, 1% Asian.

Here are some basic facts and history about Alabama.  

Recent winners— 2004–G.W. Bush 62%, 2000– G.W. Bush 56%, 1996– Dole 50%, 1992– G.W.H. Bush 48%, 1988– G.W.H. Bush 59%.

Last Democrat To Carry State—Jimmy Carter 1976.  

Last Non-Southern Democrat To Win State-John Kennedy 1960. This was at the end of the days of the Democratic Solid South.

Presidents From Alabama—None. 

Vice Presidents From Alabama—William King. (Above) Served only in 1853 as he died the year he was inaugurated. Vice President King was the running mate of Franklin Pierce.  Mr. King’s profile on the U.S. Senate web page shows a long career in the Senate. He was not a major player, but he saw a lot of history. The profile also hints at what I’ve read elsewhere. That Vice President King was gay and that he was involved with his one-time roommate and future President James Buchanan.     

Candidates For President From Alabama Winning At Least 3% Of The Popular Vote In A General ElectionGeorge Wallace,1968. Governor Wallace won 13% of the vote and carried five Southern states. His third-party states rights campaign is seen by some as a bridge for white Southerners from longtime allegiance to Democrats to the current Republican status quo.  

The house below is part of the de Tonti Historic District in Mobile.

  

May 12, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments