The Marble Statue of Martin Luther King

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 30 2010 10:43 AM

The Marble Statue of Martin Luther King

I don't feel like the debate over Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy is that interesting anymore. Every January and (to a lesser extent) August, conservatives write columns arguing that King believed that we'd reach racial transcendence when we judged "the content of character" over the color of skin. Liberals rebut that by pointing out that King was a man of the left who worked for social justice and racial uplift and opposed the Vietnam War, and was condemned by conservatives for all of this. Liberals have the facts on their side; conservatives have the fact that King has become a secular saint, honored not for all of his politics but for a few specific achievements. Schoolchildren don't learn about the social democratic politics; they learn about him Having a Dream. So when Beck said he identified with MLK more than with the founding fathers, it was ironic; figuratively, he's been carved in marble for decades.

What I do think is interesting: This article , passed on by Foreign Policy's Charles Homans, explaining what, exactly, is happening with the statue of MLK that's supposed to be on the mall.

Advertisement

The Greeks' offer was a gracious one: The giant pieces of sculpture forWashington's new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial needed to betransported from China. Perhaps Greece, with its large shippingindustry and admiration for the civil rights leader, could arrange forvessels to move the monument for free... but now, with the 159 huge stone blocks that make up the sculpturewaiting at a Chinese seaport and major work underway on the memorialsite in Washington, Greek officials have told officials of the Kingproject that they can't deliver.

That's right. The MLK memorial is a victim of the financial crisis.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.