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Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Inscription To Be Changed To Full 'Drum Major Instinct' Quotation

Mlk Memorial

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 02/10/2012 3:50 pm Updated: 02/12/2012 12:02 pm

WASHINGTON -- A controversial truncated inscription on the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial that critics say makes the slain civil rights leader sound arrogant will be changed to reflect the full quotation.

In January, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar gave the National Park Service one month to explore options for changing the quotation

Now, according to The Washington Post, there are details about how the change is going to be made:

A spokeswoman for the National Park Service said the correction ... may necessitate shaving off a slice of the memorial a few inches thick, and replacing it with a new slab bearing the full quotation.

The quotation -- "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." -- is from "Drum Major Instinct," a speech King delivered two months before he was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn.

The truncated 10-word quote -- "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness." -- made King out to sound like "an arrogant twit," poet Maya Angelou famously complained last summer, when the memorial was getting ready to be dedicated.

But not everyone is happy with the change. As The Associated Press reported Saturday, Harry Johnson, the president and CEO of the Martin Luther Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, said he was upset with the "unilateral decision" made by Salazar and the King family. Johnson fears the change will "threaten the design, structure and integrity" of the MLK monument.

The MLK memorial sits adjacent to the Tidal Basin in an alignment between the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials.

Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial
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The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial as seen on Aug. 22, 2011.

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