Quote to be changed on MLK, Jr. Memorial
"I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness."
Ten words engraved on the side of the stone of hope. Words uttered by the man whose life is memorialized here for generations to come. But this is what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. actually said in 1968.
"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 quote and the speech are not the same.
The controversy began with Maya Angelou saying the inscription made Dr. King sound arrogant. Last week, the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, announced he wanted it fixed.
King's son said Sunday if it can be done, certainly do it.
"The context is what I think people have questioned understanding and knowing who my father was it could be confusing," he says.
A spokesperson for the National Park Service says the longer quote was approved a year ago by the Park Service, the National Capital Planning Committee, and the Commission of Fine Arts.
He said the lead architect, Dr. Ed Jackson, changed it to the shorter version without approval.
Dr. Jackson didn't want to point fingers at anyone but did say: "The quote was paraphrased extracting the essence of what Dr. King should be remembered for. We were looking at the quote even before the Secretary of Interior made the decision last week. We'll go through the process and if it is going to be changed, it will be vetted by the commission of fine arts."
Sources explain if it is changed, it will most likely involve adding words above the present inscription. The engraver, Nick Benson said by phone from Rhode Island that if he's asked to come in and help, he's more than happy to resolve the issue.