Controversial Quotation on MLK Memorial to Be Changed

king quote 167 1314740880 Controversial Quotation on MLK Memorial to Be Changed

Courtesy the Washington Post.

The so-called “drum major” quotation on the memorial of Martin Luther King, Jr. will be corrected, according to CNN. News of the change was first reported last week by the Washington Post. The line reads, “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness,” a loose paraphrase of a much longer statement from his 1968 sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta: “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.”

The quotation upset poet Maya Angelou last summer, who believed the paraphrase made Dr. King sound arrogant. It is one of more than a dozen of Dr. King’s most famous words etched into the monument.

The memorial opened in August and has been visited by more than 2 million visitors since then. Crowds gathered this morning in honor of Dr. King’s birthday to lay a wreath at the foot of the monument.


  1. Lucy Manheim says:

    The corrected quotation can be carved into a slab of the same or similar rock type. The slab can be fitted into a narrow brass frame and backing. That assembled slab and frame can be set into a shallow depression on the side of the statue that fits the frame.

    This approach eliminates the need for removing the misquote and further damaging the statue.