Controversial Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Opens In DC - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Controversial Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Opens In DC

WASHINGTON - Tourists and Washingtonians were about to get their first up-close look Monday at the memorial to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The site was set to open without fanfare about 11 a.m. ET to kick off a week of celebrations ahead of the official dedication of the $120 million memorial on Sunday.

The towering 30-foot statue has drawn critics who object that it was sculpted by Chinese artist Lei Yixin.

"Dr. King would be turning over in his grave if he knew" the sculptor was from a communist country, Denver-based artist Ed Dwight, who was on an early planning team for the memorial, told USA Today.

"He would rise up from his grave and walk into their offices and go, 'How dare you?'" Dwight said.

Dr. King's expression and demeanor has also been debated, with some people arguing that his face looks Asian and that he looks confrontational with his arms folded.

But the civil rights leader's children, Martin Luther King III and Bernice King, disagree. Executive architect Ed Jackson showed them Lei's model of the head, as well as three others he had created. They chose the first one.

"I informed them that this was the one that had generated all that controversy about their father looking confrontational," Jackson told USA Today. "Martin said, 'Well if my father was not confrontational, given what he was facing at the time, what else could he be?'"

King's namesake son told the newspaper that he'd seen countless statues of his father and few of them were good reflections. "This particular artist — he's done a good job," he said. >>>CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM MSNBC.COM

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