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National Park Service To Correct Misquote At Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial


It won't happen overnight, or perhaps not even by the end of this year, but National Park Service officials are vowing to correct a misquote that's etched into the base of the "Stone of Hope" at the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, after meeting with members of the Civil Rights leader's family earlier this week, announced Friday that the paraphrased "Drum Major" quote on the memorial would be replaced with the full quote.

Observers and visitors to the new memorial have noted that a quote etched in the stone near the statue’s left shoulder is paraphrased from a passage in a sermon that Dr. King delivered at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1968. The paraphrased quote reads: “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”

Under the plan announced Friday, that quote will be removed and replaced with the entire text of the exact quote as delivered by Dr. King: “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.”

“President Obama’s dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial was a proud moment for our country and a reminder of the continuing relevance of Dr. King’s dream of dignity, respect and justice for all,” said Secretary Salazar. “With a monument so powerful and timeless, it is especially important that all aspects of its words, design and meaning stay true to Dr. King’s life and legacy.”

“My Aunt Christine and I along with other family members want to thank Secretary Salazar and the National Park Service for their considerable efforts regarding the correction of the quote on the Monument in order as the Secretary put it ‘to make sure we get it right,’” said Bernice King, Dr. King’s youngest daughter. “As promised, the Secretary and the Park Service involved the family and other interested parties and have accomplished just that with the proposed correction by the Secretary.”

“Under the careful stewardship of the National Park Service, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial will stand for all time,” said Director Jarvis. “Visitors 100 years from now will be inspired by his own words, and know how Dr. King’s leadership advanced the cause of civil rights for all Americans.”

The National Park Service expects that portions of the granite stones that carry the letters of the existing quote will have to be replaced. NPS is exploring a range of options to fund the correction -- reported estimates range up to $600,000 -- including philanthropic support.

Director Jarvis has set a goal of completing the work in time for the celebration of Dr. King’s birthday in January 2013. The full quote was previously approved by the Fine Arts Commission and other required entities during the design review process for the Memorial and therefore it does not need further review before advancing.

There was no word on who was responsible for approving the paraphrased quote.


While they are at it, IMHO they should remove that awful statue and replace it with one that looks more like Dr. King and less like Mao Zedong. Just sayin'

Right on, Bob!  Is this memorial the best the Park Service can do for $120 million?  It really comes as no surprise the approving official remains unidentified in the opaque NPS; they've probably already been promoted.  

I'm of two minds about the monumentality.  On the one hand, I get the "mountain" connection and the need for an imposing impression.  Yet, the aggressive crossed-arms stance and the fierce look; these don't conicide with my memories of Doctor King.
My question is, how are they going to replace that sound-byte quotation?  Wasn't that inscribed into a solid block of granite or are there indeed "granite stones that carry the letters of the existing quote" which can be replaced?  From the pictures that I have seen, it looks like one piece of stone to me.

Made in China.  Need we say more?

Lee's on the mark. When you hire a sculptor noted for his representations of Mao Zedong in the style of "collectivist realism," you get a stone cold, cross-armed, confrontational  MLK who even looks Chinese.  Unfortunately, it represents only one aspect of a remarkable personality and influence on our culture and in many respects is the antithesis of King's dream. The foundation could have done much better job memorializing King and promoting his legacy. Of course, the sculpture will fit in perfectly if the Chinese call in their loans and we have to give them the keys to the country.

I'm all in with your depiction of this BS, Road Ranger!  The ability for those inside NPS to voice their concerns is what will eventually save NPS!  Listen up!

Anonymous 9:03, I'm sorry but there is no reference to the NPS in my post. Please explain your attack and anger directed at what was said. I love the NPS. It was my career for nearly forty years and I'm proud to defend its mission and personnel at every turn.

Sorry, Road Ranger, I thought you were identifying a mistake or possibly that NPS is capable of not being angelic at every turn.  All in for NPS at every turn only supports the opaque description that Tahoma offered.  How can anything that is wrong with an agency be corrected from the inside with that type of unconditional support.  Enter the likes of the Rob Bishops and others in Congress and the public reacting to institutionalized underlying issues.

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