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The King Monument: The Illusion of Inclusion

February 22, 2010

What is the "illusion of inclusion"? The real question is Why is it?  Why do some folk go through great pains to make it appear they are doing what they're supposed to do, when their every intention is NOT to do what they're supposed to be doing?

The King memorial project foundation wants to make it appear that they are involving Americans and African Americans in the proposed monument to Dr. Martin Luther King.

When King Is Ours, the organization founded by my wife and myself, protested the appointment of a communist Chinese artist, famous for glorifying the mass murderer Mao Zedong, to sculpt Dr. King for the monument in Washington D.C.,  the foundation appointed John Lochart and Ed Hamilton--two black artist to "supervise" Lei Yixin.   Lockhart has been with the monument project as a consultant from project inception. He was pulled off a shelf and dusted off to serve.  Hamilton submitted his own work to be considered for the artist-of-record title and was rejected by the foundation--he told me this himself. He was happy to get a paying job.

Hamilton resigned in October 2007, siting his "discomfort"  with billing practices for his supposed "consultancy."  In the many months he served as "consultant," Ed had never seen Yixin's work in progress. His "consultancy" involved talking to Yixin via telephone.  Yixin doesn't speak English and Ed doesn't speak Chinese. Lockhart's still serving as "consultant". 

Ed's not the only one who's never seen the work in progress.  The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts is in the same office building as the King memorial foundation, yet recent articles reported that the project had progressed to full-scale, 28 foot clay model before the Commission called a halt to the project calling Yixin's portrayal "confrontational"  and reminiscent of sculptures that were being pulled down in Communist countries.  In later articles the Commission is reported saying that the foundation had apparently skipped by required progress reviews without anybody calling them on it.  $100 million goes a long way--excuse me, apologies, new reports are that the project now cost $120 million.

The illusion of inclusion.

The foundation, in the person of Harry Johnson, was summoned to appear before a Vermont Legislative committee, led by Senator Vincent Illuzzi. King Is Ours was surprised that he actually showed up in the "Granite Center of the World."  He was asked about using $10 million in federal funds without even a pretense at utilizing a mandated bid process.  Johnson was recorded saying that the $10 million had been allocated, but had not been used as of February 2008.  It was Johnson who lit the Federal investigation fire.

King is Ours forwarded the recording to the Office of the Inspector General.  When Federal agents showed up to interview us, we asked if there would even BE an investigation if what Johnson said was true. My wife and I were told that the foundation HAD used the funds. And so, there is an investigation--anyone who's been involved with the project and released is being interviewed. There are many.  Too many.

Are lawyers allowed to lie to Senate Commitees?

If Johnson and the board of directors did find a way to get around the federal mandate for accepting bids, why lie? Why not say "We didn't have to go through any kind of  bid process, so kiss my ass..."

It's the illusion of inclusion.

The foundation then named a woman from Georgia, who happens to be a couselor at a middle school and "part-time granite broker," to oversee an "impending" multi-million dollar bid process for contractors who will build walkways and walls around the King sculpture--Dr. King's sculpture is still slated to be "Made in China." 

This woman has what was described in an Atlanta Journal Constitution article as, a "tiny" company in Stone Mountain, Georgia. There are no employees, no yellow pages listing, no company information, nothing via the IRS.  More than 1000 granite companies and associations have joined the King Is Ours protest and none of them knew of her. Her father is based in Elberton, Georgia.  He's known for using scrap granite to build walls. 

Interestingly, the woman was first seen during a photo opp with Harry Johnson, Georgia Congressmen John Lewis and Hank Johnson for a tour of Stone Mountain.  Congressman Lewis was later quoted saying  stone from the infamous "Klan" rock would be included in the D.C. monument project.  Problem is, there hasn't been a quarry at Stone Mountain for more than 30 years. 

The illusion of inclusion.

Word is that the stone quarried in China (paid for with U.S. tax payer $$), using slave labor (paid for with U.S. tax payer $$), will now be shipped here to America to be carved.  Yixin (paid for with U.S. tax payer $$) is supposed to be shipped here as well, to "oversee" work done by American artists. 

The illlusion of inclusion is also known as bullshit.  GY



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