Inscription on MLK Memorial Removed After Critics Dispute Meaning

A Chinese sculptor is working on a new finish for the side of the statue.

Posted: 08/02/2013 11:25 AM EDT

Rarely are inscriptions reworked on statues on the National Mall, but a dispute around a quote on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial has called for its removal.

Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin is working on the finish of the new side of the statue that will cost between $700,000 and $800,000. Funds set aside for the memorial's maintenance will cover the cost for the changes.

The removed quote came from the civil rights leader's “Drum Major” speech. It read, “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”

Associated Press reports

Critics, including the poet Maya Angelou, argued that the quotation was taken out of context when it was paraphrased and shortened. Angelou said it made King sound arrogant.

Lei said the corrective work was going well and is on track to finish before commemorations of the 50th anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington on Aug. 28.

“The difficulty is the new striations — so they won’t damage the integrity of the statue itself,” Lei said through an interpreter.

Read full story here.

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(Photo: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

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