Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Inscription Will Be Corrected

A paraphrased quote will be changed to reflect what the civil rights legend actually said.

Posted: 01/13/2012 05:50 PM EST

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall has withstood many things, least of which was the hurricane that postponed its original dedication date. But more disturbing to some, at least, was an inaccurate quote from the civil rights legend. Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar has given the National Park Service a 30-day deadline to correct the quotation.


“I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness,” a paraphrased quote on the monument reads. Poet and author Maya Angelou said that the paraphrased quotation makes King “look like an arrogant twit.”


What King actually said 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. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”


The correction is “important because Dr. King and his presence on the Mall is a forever presence for the United States of America, and we have to make sure that we get it right,” Salazar said.



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