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'It should be left alone': Activist offers true meaning behind MLK bust

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) -- - Another Buffalo activist is standing behind the Martin Luther King Jr statue at Martin Luther King Jr. Park. He says after 30 years there's no need to remove or replace the current bust.

"It's more important today as an outstanding tribute to black men than it was when it was first unveiled," said Clifford Bell.
As 89-year-old Clifford Bell looks back at the unveiling of the bust at MLK Park more than 30 years ago, he says it's not a nuisance -- it's necessary.
"There is nothing like this any place in America in the heart of the African American community which is also a pleasant thing," said Bell.
Bell is the chairman of the Martin Luther King Celebration Committee and he helped raise the money to build the sculpture.  
"I understand that there were some people who probably wanted it to look exactly like King but that wasn't the final decision on the part of the committee," said Bell.
Samuel Herbert has collected more than 6,000 signatures to remove and replace the bust. He wants a statue that looks like Dr. King.
But Bell says the bust should stay put.
"To infer that he has a problem with the committee is a disrespectful statement to all those people who spent almost 3 years putting this together," said Bell.
He says from the beginning, the artist John Woodrow Wilson, a black man, said it's not supposed to look like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. -- but a tribute.
Bell says that's included in Wilson's original proposal for the sculpture. Wilson himself says he wanted King's ideas, sensitivity and eloquence to be communicated through the bust.
Bell says he's not against erecting another statue, but says this one needs to stay.
"If Mr. Herbert wants something that looks like King, he has every right to build it and put it in that park or whatever park he can get access to. I'll even help them build another one, but that one's not going anywhere," said Bell.

Bell says he doesn't hear of too many people who don't like the statue. He tells News 4 this isn't a war between him and Sam Herbert.
He says he doesn't believe Buffalo city leaders would allow it to be removed.


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