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Interior Department Proposing To Scratch Out Misquote On Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial


Nearly a year after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar promised to fix a misquote on the "Stone of Hope" at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial, officials have come up with a plan on how to do that: scratch out the quote.

Back in February the Interior secretary said that the paraphrased "Drum Major" quote on the memorial would be replaced with the full quote.

The paraphrased quote reads: “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.” Back in February, it was announced that that quote would 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.”

But now the Interior secretary says the monument's sculptor, Master Lei Yixin, said the safest way to ensure the structural integrity of the monument would be not to replace the section with the misquote, but to simply carve striations over the lettering to match the existing scratch marks on the sculpture.

Secretary Salazar says all parties involved -- the National Park Service, the King family and the Memorial Foundation, and Master Lei Yixin -- all concur that this is the best path forward.

“The memorial stands as a testament to Dr. King’s struggle for civil rights, and a dream of dignity, respect and justice for all,” said the secretary in a release. “I am proud that all parties have come together on a resolution that will help ensure the structural integrity of this timeless and powerful monument to Dr. King’s life and legacy.”

“We are grateful that Secretary Salazar’s office and the National Park Service has taken such care to maintain the spirit and appearance of such an important monument to our country’s history and my father’s memory,” said Bernice A. King, Dr. King’s youngest daughter and CEO of the King Center in Atlanta.

The memorial will remain open to visitors during the corrective work; however, due to scaffolding and partial coverage of the sculpture, visitors should expect limited visibility during periods of the process. To ensure the best visitor experience during the Dr. King’s birthday and the 2013 Presidential Inauguration, and to address weather concerns, work will begin February - March 2013, and is estimated to be completed by spring 2013.

“The King Memorial has a special meaning to so many visitors to the National Mall,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “We want to make sure that the many thousands of people expected to visit on Dr. King’s birthday are able to see and experience this powerful tribute to Dr. King.”

“While our family would have of course preferred to have the entire ‘Drum Major’ quote used, we fully endorse and support the Secretary’s proposal,” said Dr. Christine King Farris, Dr. King’s sister.

The plan will be submitted to the Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission in January for their review as appropriate.


The original preserves King's hallmark call-and-response and parallel syntax. Much, much better!

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