An Associated Press story today about President Obama redecorating the Oval Office featured a photo of a beautifully sculpted bust of Martin Luther King Jr. The picture was a stark reminder, particularly with MLK’s national holiday coming up soon, that Charlotte needs to find a replacement for the statue of (supposedly) MLK, Jr. in Marshall Park.
The sculpture, which looks as if some arbitrary guy is holding his hand out to check for rain, was created in the 1980s by then-80-year-old Selma Burke, originally of Mooresville and ostensibly the creator of the Roosevelt image featured on the dime. The MLK statue, and I'm being very kind, sort of, kind of looks like Martin Luther King, but not really — although, strangely enough, it's a dead ringer for a guy I grew up with named Hazel Willis. Seriously.
The Marshall Park statue once inspired an unsuccessful effort to replace the head of the full-body sculpture, which, on top of its other distinctions, was named "World's Worst Martin Luther King Statue" in a book by Jerry Bledsoe, North Carolina Curiosities.
With MLK Day approaching, this is the perfect time for local government to spring for a better statue. It's simple, really: if you honor someone with a statue, at least make sure it looks like the guy.