Martin Luther King Jr’s memorial to be corrected

The Martin Luther King Jr. memorial which opened in August in Washington, D.C. sports a quotation, “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”

It paraphrases a much more modest sounding portion from a sermon known as the Drum Major Instinct, in which King said:

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.

A spokesman for the secretary of the US department of the interior, Ken Salazar, announced on Friday that the quotation would be changed, after it was criticized for not accurately portraying King’s words, reported the Associated Press.

King’s son said in an interview with CNN, “That’s not what Dad said.” Poet Maya Angelou said the misquotation made King sound like “an arrogant twit” and undermined King’s main point which was the folly of wanting “to be great without doing any great, difficult things,” reported the Christian Science Monitor.

The Washington Post’s Rachel Manteuffel wrote an editorial five months ago, drawing attention to the paraphrased quote, saying, “This quote is awfully self-aggrandizing for a man who so often symbolized the strength in humility.”

At the time, she clarified that the Council of Historians, who chose the quotations for the MLK memorial, did include key portions of King’s quote that would have retained his original message.

More on GlobalPost: Obama to speak at Martin Luther King Memorial dedication

Salazar has given the National Park Service a month to work with the King Memorial Foundation, the King family and others to come up with an alternative shortening of the quotation.

Salazar got in touch with The Post and said, “This 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.”

More on GlobalPost: MLK Memorial dedication draws thousands of attendees (PHOTOS)


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