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. — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1968
Early next year, the incorrect quote now seen on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial will likely be removed, not replaced, as was the original plan. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar endorsed a plan Tuesday to remove the incorrect quote.
The current plan is to scratch the misquote off. The cost of the blunder will be between $700,000 and $900,000 and the fix is expected to be privately funded. After much drama regarding the quote over the past year, a plan to alter the King Memorial will be formally presented by the Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission in January. A review will follow.
The paraphrased quote now reads: “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.” The correct full quote by the legendary civil rights leader is seen above. King said the words about two months before his death.
“While our family would have of course preferred to have the entire ‘Drum Major’ quote used, we fully endorse and support the Secretary’s proposal,” King’s sister, Christine King Farris, told USA Today regarding the plan. Members of the King family viewed the plans for the original memorial — which included the misquote — several times before the sculpture was rendered.
“The plan to remove, instead of replace, the quote was recommended by statue’s sculptor, Lei Yixin, as the safest way to ensure the structural integrity of the memorial,” NBC News reported.