(Image source: National Park Service)

BY STEVEN SPARKMAN
ANCHOR ZACH TOOMBS


The Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington, DC, will have the inscription on its north face erased next spring, putting an end to a controversy that began before the sculpture was even unveiled.

The inscription reads “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.” (Video via PBS Newshour)

It’s a paraphrasing of a quote from King’s “Drum Major Instinct” speech, given two months before he was killed, in which King imagines his own funeral.

“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.”

The condensed version of the quote has attracted criticism since August, 2011, when a Washington Post reporter noticed it. The reporter said the paraphrase completely changes King’s meaning.

“An ‘if’ clause is an extraordinarily bad thing to leave out of a quote. … In the speech, he is creating a bit of a straw man: If you see him as an attention-craver, a puffed-up drum major ... then at least he would hope that you saw him doing it for the most noble causes.”

By taking out the “if” clause, it makes it seem Martin Luther King was praising himself.

Poet Maya Angelou, an advisor for the memorial, said it made King seem like “an arrogant twit.” (Video via WGHP)

In February, the Parks Service announced it would replace the condensed quote with the full one.

But a statement from the Department of the Interior says removing the quote turned out to be the safer option in terms of the sculpture’s structural integrity.

The quote will be scratched out, replaced with markings in the style of the rest of the statue. The memorial will stay open during the construction.

MLK Memorial to Have 'Drum Major' Quote Removed

by Steven Sparkman
0
Transcript
Dec 11, 2012

MLK Memorial to Have 'Drum Major' Quote Removed

 

(Image source: National Park Service)

BY STEVEN SPARKMAN
ANCHOR ZACH TOOMBS


The Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington, DC, will have the inscription on its north face erased next spring, putting an end to a controversy that began before the sculpture was even unveiled.

The inscription reads “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.” (Video via PBS Newshour)

It’s a paraphrasing of a quote from King’s “Drum Major Instinct” speech, given two months before he was killed, in which King imagines his own funeral.

“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.”

The condensed version of the quote has attracted criticism since August, 2011, when a Washington Post reporter noticed it. The reporter said the paraphrase completely changes King’s meaning.

“An ‘if’ clause is an extraordinarily bad thing to leave out of a quote. … In the speech, he is creating a bit of a straw man: If you see him as an attention-craver, a puffed-up drum major ... then at least he would hope that you saw him doing it for the most noble causes.”

By taking out the “if” clause, it makes it seem Martin Luther King was praising himself.

Poet Maya Angelou, an advisor for the memorial, said it made King seem like “an arrogant twit.” (Video via WGHP)

In February, the Parks Service announced it would replace the condensed quote with the full one.

But a statement from the Department of the Interior says removing the quote turned out to be the safer option in terms of the sculpture’s structural integrity.

The quote will be scratched out, replaced with markings in the style of the rest of the statue. The memorial will stay open during the construction.

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