"The Embrace" statue in Boston.
Source: Hank Willis Thomas

"The Embrace" statue in Boston.

Martin Luther King Jr. Honored With “The Embrace” Statue — How Much Did It Cost?

Jennifer Farrington - Author
By

Jan. 16 2023, Published 12:33 p.m. ET

Standing 20 feet high and 25 feet wide, "The Embrace" statue dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. represents a historical moment in the civil rights leader’s life — the moments following him being awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1964. The 65,000 lb. sculpture, created by artist Hank Willis Thomas and MASS Design Group, was unveiled on Jan. 13, 2023, just days before the U.S. would honor MLK Day.

So, how much did "The Embrace" statue of MLK cost?

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Positioned perfectly within the 1965 Freedom Plaza, "The Embrace" statue of MLK and its surroundings serve as a memorial and a “first step in a transformative vision for the city of Boston,” as noted by the MASS Design Group. MLK studied philosophy and ethics in Boston and also led freedom marches there. Boston is also where he met his wife.

Keep reading to find out more about the meaning behind the MLK statue and how much it cost.

How much did "The Embrace" statue cost?

"The Embrace" statue in Boston.
Source: Hank Willis Thomas

"The Embrace" statue in Boston.

After Embrace Boston’s call for a permanent monument in Boston was finally heard, 126 applications were received to create the piece that would serve as a symbol of equity and justice. After an art committee narrowed the applicants down to just five finalists, its members ultimately settled on Hank Willis Thomas.

Thomas, along with MASS, went on to create "The Embrace," which cost about $10 million to make.

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What does the new Martin Luther King Jr. statue represent?

The MLK statue titled "The Embrace" is a depiction of King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, sharing a warm hug in 1965 after the civil rights leader was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The creator of the bronze piece, Hank Willis Thomas, says that it was in that moment that he saw “how much of [King’s] weight was literally on top of [Coretta]. I thought that was a really symbolic idea: That she was literally holding his weight.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. relaxes at home with his wife Coretta and first child Yolanda (1956).
Source: Getty Images

Martin Luther King, Jr. relaxes at home with his wife Coretta and first child Yolanda (1956).

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In a time where division among races is still very much an issue, Thomas’ sculpture reminds us of how powerful love and partnership are and aims to spread this message: “It is about what we share, not what sets us apart.”

Who is Hank Willis Thomas, the man who designed "The Embrace"?

Hank Willis Thomas
Source: Hank Willis Thomas

Hank Willis Thomas

Thomas is a conceptual artist who was born in 1976 in Plainfield, N.J. His work has been displayed all over the world, including at the Hong Kong Arts Centre And the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Some of his most notable works include Unity and Love Over Rules.

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Thomas received his B.F.A. from New York University, New York, N.Y. in 1998 and an M.A./M.F.A. from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco in 2004. He went on to receive an honorary doctorate from the Maryland Institute of Art and the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts in 2017.

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"The Embrace" statue of Martin Luther King Jr. sits in a public park in Boston.

If you’re wondering where in Boston "The Embrace" statue was placed, you can find it in the Boston Common, one of America’s oldest public parks. "The Embrace" is a part of the 1965 Freedom Ground Plaza, a 6,000-square-foot plaza that features granite pavers, benches, and wall elements, as per MASS Design Group.

The 1965 Freedom Ground Plaza “fosters intimacy” as it surrounds "The Embrace" and also honors 64 of Boston’s civil rights leaders who actively fought for change between 1950 and 1970.

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