Hank Willis Thomas racial fairness monument set for Boston

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Next year, the nation’s oldest public park, Boston Common, will unveil one of the nation’s largest racial justice memorials: “The Embrace,” designed by artist Hank Willis Thomas and architects of the MASS Design Group.

The monument, a 22-foot-tall bronze memorial honoring Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King’s commitment to racial equity, will consist of two pairs of bronze arms, intertwined in a circle. It is based on a photograph of kings kissing after Dr King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

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Thomas is a conceptual artist who has come to prominence in recent years for his public sculptures – including those in Brooklyn and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama – which explore black identity and history. He also helped found For Freedoms, an artist-led political action committee that sponsored public art and billboards across the country in an effort to galvanize political participation and public debate. .

Imari Paris Jeffries, Executive Director of King Boston, a private nonprofit organization that worked with the City of Boston on this project, said, “Our country has long been, and very quickly in 2020, having a conversation questioning the meaning of monuments and memorials. They are “inherently political and meaningful, so we thought about what it would mean for Boston to be an inclusive place and build one,” he added.

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“The Embrace” will be built in a new square, to be called the 1965 Freedom Rally Memorial Plaza, to commemorate a march the kings led from the Roxbury neighborhood to Boston Common. The project has been underway since 2016. King Boston has raised around $ 12 million and hopes to raise an additional $ 3 million from philanthropists and Boston-based companies, with a view to unveiling the work in October 2022.

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“Right now in 2021, we ask ourselves: what would it be for Boston to be the epicenter of civil rights? What about economic and racial justice? Jeffries said. “We want to imagine that and do that.”

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