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'Drum major' quote on MLK memorial to be corrected
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial sits on the Tidal Basin between the Lincoln Memorial and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.
January 14th, 2012
09:11 PM ET

'Drum major' quote on MLK memorial to be corrected

Washington (CNN) - A controversial quote inscribed in the granite of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall will be corrected, an official at the Interior Department confirmed to CNN.

News of the change to the so-called "drum major" line was first reported Friday afternoon in the Washington Post.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has given the National Park Service 30 days to consult with the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, members of the King family and others to decide on a more accurate version of the quote, the official said.

The quote holds a prominent place among more than a dozen King's most notable lines at the site.

The memorial site features a commanding 30-foot statue of King, arms folded across his chest, emerging from a "Stone of Hope."

The quote in question is inscribed on one side of the stone. The abbreviated and paraphrased version of the line sparked controversy last summer when acclaimed poet and author Maya Angelou said it made the civil rights leader appear to be arrogant.

The line reads: "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness."

In fact, King's original words, from a 1968 sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, were: "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."

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soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Grandpa RD

    While I love the message of peace and brotherhood that Doctor King spread, I do NOT care for this memorial at all. Sorry, but it just doesn't seem to suit him a bit.

    January 16, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. SS

    This sounded like the primary candidates version of quoting each other

    January 15, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |