Local News

Rocky Mount Considers Selling Controversial MLK Statue

Posted April 7, 2005

— A statue meant to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. went up nearly two years ago, and the city of Rocky Mount is still getting an earful about it because many argue it does not look like the civil rights leader. The city wants to replace the statue, but first they have to find someone who wants to buy the one they have got.

"I don't think it's bad. I could see if it looked nothing like him," park visitor Terry Usher said. "It's an OK likeness. It could be worse."

Rev. Elbert Lee marched with the late civil rights leader. He is one of many who said the statue does not do him justice.

"It doesn't look at all like him," he said.

A special statue committee recently agreed to hire a new artist to create a statue that looks more like King. The new statue is expected to cost nearly three times as much as the original. City Council members want to sell the old one to help pay for its replacement.

They have discussed trying to sell it to another town or possibly listing it on eBay.

"Why would you try to sell it to someone else? That doesn't make any sense," Usher said. "That's kind of like, 'OK, it's not good enough for us, so we'll push it off on the next set of folks.'"

"People have contacted us about it. The artist likes it. It is a beautiful work of art," City Councilwoman Angela Bryant said. "It just doesn't satisfy our need to have a likeness of Dr. Martin Luther King."

Some council members hope national attention over the controversy will help sell it. The county manager has to decide how the city should try to sell the statue. He is also talking with the new artist to see if she can reduce the price of the new one.

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