Advocates Call for Removal of Bust at MLK Park

Head of civil rights icon looks nothing like Dr. King

Mike Baggerman
January 15, 2018 - 2:04 pm

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Advocates who want to remove the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. announced their plans to remove the statue from MLK Park.

"(We want to) replace it with an in-large, life-size, identical replica of a great American," Samuel A. Herbert from the Coalition to Save MLK Park said. "The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King."

The head is eight-feet tall and doesn't look like Martin Luther King, Jr. Herbert wants the head to be removed, melted down, and recycled into the replica so that everybody can recognize who it is.

READ MORE: Controversy over MLK Statue at MLK Park

"We're going to live to see this mistake corrected," he said. "No more symbolism. We want realism."

Organizers began a petition on January 8 which has already received a few signatures. They want to get 10,000 signatures, then present them to elected officials and community leaders, so that the process can begin in order to replace the statue. 

Because the statue is in a public park, it would need to go through a request for proposal site and be approved by city officials. 

"We're going to raise the dollars," Herbert said. "We're going to save a tremendous amount of money (by recycling the material, the metal)...We're going to hire that oriental sculpture that did the work in Washington, D.C. on the Reverend Martin Luther King monument: The Stone of Hope. We're going to get him to do the work."

The Stone of Hope was opened in 2011 and designed by Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin. That project cost an estimated $120 million. Herbert did not have any figures yet on a cost for a lifelike statue of the civil rights icon, though it's expected to be significantly less.

"We're not going to have meetings and solicit sculptors," he said. "We know what Dr. King looked like and that's what we want. Seeing is believing."

Herbert took a hard-line stance in saying he does not want a new statue in a different location at MLK Park. However, he was open to how Dr. King was depicted, so long as it's lifelike.

He plans to solicit private donations of $25 to $100 to help fund the project.

On Monday's edition of A New Morning, Rev. Kinzer Pointer discussed the statue.

"Statues don't teach us anything," Pointer said. "They simply play to our vanity. We like to erect statues because we want to remember a certain period of time in history. If Martin Luther King were here, he'd say 'Don't waste money building another monument to me. How about using that money to help someone who cannot do the things for themselves that they need done.' He would be horrified that we would spend $250,000 or more to build a monument in his honor."

Herbert took exception to this.

LISTEN: Rev. Kinzer Pointer talks about MLK Statue at MLK Park

"That's the most asinine thing I've ever heard in my life," Herbert said. "He's speaking for Dr. King? Heck no. He's wrong and he should silence himself on that. That's a terrible thing to say."

Herbert said the statue is about displaying a "great American with all his physical characteristics". 

You can view the petition here

LISTEN: Samuel A. Herbert calls for the removal of the bust of MLK Jr. at MLK Park.

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