The $10 million sculpture, titled The Embrace, which symbolizes an iconic hug between King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, after he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, has been causing quite a stir. Jones didn’t waste a moment asking the audience what it saw when it looked at the sculpture.
The following transcript and video contain graphic language.
“Has anyone in here ever been eaten out?” she asked. “I’m serious! Has anyone in here ever participated in the munchy, munch, munch, munch? Because they are celebrating you in Boston right now,” she continued. “Listen, I know Dr. King went down in history, but this is not how you show it.”
Then Leslie turned to a different camera and said, “White people: You don’t need to be saying shit about this statue,” she said. “You understand? You need to sit your ass in the back of the bus for this one. You need to honor the statue. This is our civil rights icon ... going down on his wife.”
Seneca Scott, a cousin of Coretta Scott King, told CNN that from certain angles, the memorial “looked like a penis.”
In an op-ed for Compact Magazine, Scott wrote: “Ten million dollars were wasted to create a masturbatory metal homage to my legendary family members—one of the all-time greatest American families.”
The 20-foot-tall, 40-foot-wide bronze statue, unveiled on Boston Common where King gave a speech on April 23, 1965, was designed by Brooklyn, New York-based artist Hank Willis Thomas.
Martin Luther King III told CNN’s Don Lemon the monument is “a huge representation of bringing people together,” adding, "I think the artist did a great job. I'm satisfied. Yeah, it didn't have my mom and dad's images, but it represents something that brings people together."
Leslie then asked Black audience members, “Okay, Black people: What the fuck we gonna do? [...] You know it’s messed up when Black people and the Proud Boys hate the same statue.”
On his website, the monument’s artist writes: “When we recognize that all storytelling is an abstraction, all representation is an abstraction, hopefully, it allows us to be open to more dynamic and complex forms of representation that don’t stick us to narrative that oversimplifies a person or their legacy, and I think this work really tries to get to the heart of that.”
Billboard reports that Jones will guest-host three episodes of The Daily Show this week, followed by comedians Wanda Sykes, D.L. Hughley, Chelsea Handler, and Sarah Silverman.
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