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What Can and Can'T Be SaidRace, Uplift, and Monument Building in the Contemporary South$
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Dell Upton

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300211757

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300211757.001.0001

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A Stern-Faced, Twenty-Eight-Foot-Tall Black Man

A Stern-Faced, Twenty-Eight-Foot-Tall Black Man

(p.96) Chapter 3 A Stern-Faced, Twenty-Eight-Foot-Tall Black Man
What Can and Can'T Be Said

Dell Upton

Yale University Press

This chapter examines the popularity and the contentiousness of monuments that celebrate the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., including his bronze statue in Birmingham, Alabama. King holds a special place in the popular imagination despite the efforts of both historians and of former participants to demonstrate that the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was much broader and more varied than what he did and said. Statues that celebrate King have been a source of acrimony owing to their representation of the man. For whites and politicians of all stripes, King's image should be an agent of social “integration.” In contrast, many African Americans view King as a champion and intercessor. The discussion on which King will be celebrated in the public landscape is often framed as a debate over the monuments' physical and spiritual likeness to their original. This chapter also considers the King statue at Rocky Mount, North Carolina and the memorial in Washington, DC, suggesting that both structures reflect white supremacy that continues to haunt the South's memorial landscape.

Keywords:   monuments, Martin Luther King Jr., Alabama, civil rights movement, statues, whites, African Americans, North Carolina, white supremacy, South

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