Quote to be Removed from MLK Memorial in D.C.

December 11, 2012

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial in Washington, D.C. is already getting some changes. It was dedicated last year, and now the Department of the Interior is removing one of the quotes carved into the stone.

Critics say the paraphrased quote misrepresents what King was saying, and it makes him sound arrogant.

The quote on the memorial reads: "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness."

However, in the original speech, King's entire statement was: "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."

The department is choosing to remove the quote instead of alter it. The plan calls for removing the quote by carving scratches over the lettering to match the existing scratch marks on the sculpture. The sculpture's designer suggested this tactic, because it will not damage the structural integrity of the memorial.

"We are grateful that Secretary Salazar's office and the National Park Service has taken such care to maintain the spirit and appearance of such an important monument to our country's history and my father's memory," said Bernice A. King, Dr. King's youngest daughter and CEO of the King Center in Atlanta.

The memorial will remain open to visitors during the corrective work; however, due to scaffolding and partial coverage of the sculpture, visitors should expect limited visibility during periods of the process. In order to ensure the best visitor experience during the Dr. King's birthday and the 2013 Presidential Inauguration, and to address weather concerns, work will begin in February and is estimated to be completed by the spring.

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