controversy over chinese sculptor and mlk memorial

Back in February, it was announced that master sculptor Lei Yixin of China had been chosen to carve the image of Martin Luther King Jr. for a memorial to be built on the National Mall in Washington DC—a tremendous honor and responsibility. However, there has apparently been some controversy and dissatisfaction over the fact that artist was chosen from outside the African American community: King sculptor meets stony resistance.

One detractor set up a website to protest the selection of a "Chinese guy" to sculpt King's image. And of course Jesse Jackson has gotten involved: Jackson Pushes for Black Inclusion in MLK Memorial, Project President Makes Big Promise As Another Million Rolls In

History has shown that any time a significant project is proposed for the National Mall, you're going to have controversy. I can't help but recall that Maya Lin was also insulted and scrutinized when she was selected to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. How dare they! An Asian artist chosen to design such important American monument! (Lin was a Yale University architecture student from Ohio.) Her detractors called her a "gook" and "the enemy." To them, it was a slap in the face. [UPDATE: Cindy reminds me that Maya Lin also designed the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama.]

It seems that in some people's eyes, having a "Chinese guy" sculpt Dr. King is equally as insulting. I'm inclined to side with Beverly Robertson, director of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, regarding MLK: "His impact is felt by all people of all races, colors, creeds, religions... He doesn't just belong to us in this country. He belongs to the world."

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