fb-pixelBoston Arts Commission green-lights design for King memorial - The Boston Globe Skip to main content

Boston Arts Commission green-lights design for King memorial

"The Embrace" is slated for installation in 2022.Mass + Songha & Company

“The Embrace,” a 22-foot-high bronze figure replicating a moment of affection between Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, inched closer to its future on Boston Common this week. The Boston Art Commission has voted unanimously to approve the memorial’s design by artist Hank Willis Thomas, the city announced Wednesday.

“With this vote, we are one step closer to seeing this memorial come to life in our city, recognizing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King’s trailblazing legacy,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh in a statement. “It will be a constant source of inspiration for all residents and visitors to Boston, and will play an important role in marking the progress we’ve made in addressing inequity in our city, and reminding us of the work that still needs to be done.”


Martin Luther King Jr. earned a doctorate in theology from Boston University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in the 1950s and preached at Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury. Coretta Scott graduated from New England Conservatory in 1954 with a degree in music education. The couple first talked over the phone in 1952, after a mutual friend introduced them.

The idea for a memorial to the Kings was introduced more than a decade ago by former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. King Boston, the nonprofit established to celebrate the Kings’ local legacy, selected Thomas’s design last March from five finalists after evaluating 126 submissions. The memorial is expected to be installed next year near the Parkman Bandstand where King gave a speech in 1965.

“This is a really exciting moment and opportunity for us in this project, which honors the legacy and love of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King,” said Thomas, the artist responsible for the winning design, in a statement. “The Boston Common is the oldest city park in the country, and we are proud that this public monument will make history in this historic place.”


Natachi Onwuamaegbu can be reached at natachi.onwuamaegbu@globe.com.