Disputed quote to be removed from King Memorial
It appears as if critics’ disappointment in the paraphrased quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Drum Major” speech on the King Memorial are finally receiving attention. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar endorsed a plan on Tuesday to remove the disputed quote from the sculpture, as opposed to cutting into the granite to replace it with a fuller quotation.
Salazar said he reached an agreement with the King family, the group that built the memorial, and the National Park Service to remove the inscription by carving grooves over the lettering to match existing scratch marks in the sculpture to avoid harming the monument’s structural integrity.
The request comes after many critics, including Maya Angelou, claimed the paraphrase of Dr. King’s “Drum Major” speech made him sound arrogant and took his words out of context. The paraphrase reads: “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”
The full quotation was taken from a 1968 sermon that Dr. King delivered approximately two months before his assassination. It reads: “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.” Dr. King’s daughter, Christine King Farris, said the family had wanted the entire quotation to be inscribed in the memorial.
In a statement provided to The Associated Press, Salazar explained the resolution of the long disagreement over the inscription and how it should be repaired. ”I am proud that all parties have come together on a resolution that will help ensure the structural integrity of this timeless and powerful monument to Dr. King’s life and legacy,” he said. In a joint statement the King family voiced support for the new plan. Bernice King, Dr. King’s daughter who is chief executive of the King Center in Atlanta, thanked Salazar and the National Park Service for taking “care to maintain the spirit and appearance of such an important monument to our country’s history and my father’s memory.”
The process is slated to begin after the Presidential inauguration in February or March of 2013 and will be completed in the spring, according to federal officials.