Leaders Push Back on Move to Replace MLK Park Tribute Sculpture to Dr. King

As Petition Numbers Climb, Leaders Push Back on Move to Replace MLK Park Tribute to Dr. King

It was clear from day one that the bust unveiled in MLK Park in tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King 35 years ago was not intended to be a likeness of the iconic civil rights leader. And although not everyone was initially pleased with the 8 foot tall meditative head, there was a quiet acceptance of the artist’s rendering and his idea of the sculpture to represent the universality of “every Black man’s” struggle – until last January on Martin Luther king Day.

That’s when activist Samuel A. Herbert launched a petition drive to replace the sculpture with a more accurate portrayal of Dr. King. His goal is to get 10,000 signatures in support of the move. He recently announced that he had over 6,000, and now some of those involved with the making the sculpture possible, are publicly pushing back.

On Wednesday, October 31at 7 p.m.Hon. George K. Arthur and Hon. Clifford D. Bell were guests of We Are Women Warriors on A Radio Revolution, on WUFO Radio, 96.5 FM. They discussed the history behind the statue or bust that is in MLK Park. Viewers were also welcome to join the conversation.

Clifford Bell, who led the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration Committee at the time plans for the tribute were being made said in the Oct. 29th Buffalo News article that he could understand people wanting a more traditional statue that would mirror Dr. King, and that if Mr. Herbert and others wanted to replace the bust with a new statue he would be happy to help as long as they would be in favor of finding a different location.

He said he is not in favor of the destruction or melting down of the current sculpture by renowned African-American artist John Woodrow Wilson, in order to erect a new one, as the petition calls for. Mr. Arthur, who is also seeking common ground and a way to satisfy both sides, pointed out that Dr. king was about unity, not division. The issue has also made national news. The Root, The Architects Newspaper , a Syracuse on line news source and the Daily News have also picked up on the story.

The Daily News article reported that Lee Speight, a North Carolina-based sculptor who spotted Herbert’s petition online, said he’s willing to offer a life-size, 5-foot-7 model of King he made out of terracotta to stand in the Buffalo park. However Herbert has said he wanted the work done by sculpture, Lei Yixin, who did the work in Washington, D.C., on the National Monument. In the meantime, he is focused on getting his last couple of thousand signatures.