WASHINGTON–The U.S. Department of the Interior announced Friday that it will correct a quote etched in stone on the Martin Luther King Memorial to more accurately reflect the meaning and intent of King’s original statement. The Washington Post newspaper was the first to notice last year that a quote etched in the stone near the statue’s left shoulder was paraphrased from a passage in a sermon that 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 by the department, the paraphrased quote would be removed and replaced with the entire text of the exact quote as delivered by King.
“Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice,” the original quote reads. “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 decision followed a meeting last Monday between department leaders and members of the Martin Luther King family.
“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,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement.
The National Park Service is exploring several options for making the correction, but it anticipates that portions of the granite stones that carry the letters of the existing quote will have to be replaced.
The service wants to complete the work in time for the celebration of King’s birthday in January 2013.