New York Activist Calls for ‘Shameful’ Bust of Martin Luther King Jr. to be Removed from Park

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A community activist of Buffalo began a petition to replace a bust of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in a western New York park.

Samuel A. Herbert the chairman of the Coalition To Save MLK Park, told WIVB-TV that his goal is to obtain 10,000 signatures in order to remove the 8-foot-tall bust that sits in Buffalo’s “Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.”

“Our beef has never been with the sculptor, but the committee that approved this shameful image of a great American,” said Herbert. “We have allowed this distorted image to sit here for 35 years.”

Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King Jr. bears no resemblance to a symbolic bust erected in the Buffalo, N.Y., Martin Luther King Park in 1983. Activist Samuel Herbert (above right) wants the bust removed and replace. (Photos by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images and Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)

The community activist said the bust that was unveiled in 1983 doesn’t bear any resemblance to King’s likeness at all. However, the artist of the bust, John Woodrow Wilson who died in 2015 at the age of 92, created the statue to be a representation and not to look exactly like the civil rights leader.

Herbert has collected more than 6,000 signatures and plans on having a new statue in place by 2020. He noted that people want a “statue that looks just like Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. No abstract. No symbolism. Enough of symbolism, we want realism.”

Lee Speight, an artist of Raleigh, North Carolina got wind of Herbert’s petition and crafted a new statue of Dr. King that he hopes Buffalo will be take to.

“I made the model of it and it’s made out of terracotta and it’s life size, he’s 5’7 because Martin Luther King was 5’7,” said Speight.

Herbert’s next goal is to start fundraising and prepare for legal woes to have the statue removed if necessary.

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