The King memorial, 28 feet, 6 inches high, has come under criticism for the stern expression on his face and his crossed arms. In April 2008, the Commission of Fine Arts protested “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.”
There were gripes about “outsourcing” the job to China, to a sculptor who has also made a statute of communist leader Mao Zedong.
Federal officials are eager to move past the inscription debate with the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington coming Aug. 28.
Options included using the full quote or changing “I” to “He” but Lei will carve out the words and leave in place a series of striations that create the visual that the monument — the Stone of Hope — was pulled from another heap of granite at the site, called the Mountain of Despair.
King’s family preferred the full “drum major” quote but blessed the change, which Lei said would protect the structural integrity.
He was on site Monday, a camera hung around his neck as four fellow Chinese workers pulled out power tools and hammers. Just before 11 a.m., they climbed up the scaffolding and began the job, audible but barely visible due to the white cloth.
A park ranger informed tourists of what was happening and many shrugged and kept taking pictures. Though a fence sits around the site, King is visible.
“It’s a ton of cash but history is forever,” Mark Moses, 54 of Charlotte, N.C., said of the repair job, paid for by a maintenance fund. “If they’re making a wrong right, then more power to them.”
Contact Alex Leary at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @learyreports