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MLK Memorial Quote Controversy To Be Put To Rest In September

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The quote on the side of the "Stone of Hope" will be changed this September.
Markette Smith
The quote on the side of the "Stone of Hope" will be changed this September.

It's been a year since the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial opened on the National Mall, and the monument is already going to see some changes in the coming weeks.

Mayor Vincent Gray joined leaders of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial foundation yesterday to recognize the anniversary of the day the monument opened to the public.

"This Memorial represents a dream deferred, in so many ways," said Gray. "In the struggle to get it built and dedicated, in many ways mirrors the struggle and movement it commemorates, doesn't it?"

And one more struggle that the group hopes to put to rest is the controversy over a line inscribed on the stone. The quote in question — "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness" — was paraphrased from a sermon King gave at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1968, leading some prominent civil rights leaders, including Maya Angelou, to disapprove. The actual quote reads: "There is deep down within all of us an instinct," King said. "It's a kind of drum major instinct — a desire to be out front, a desire to lead the parade, a desire to be first."

Harry Johnson, president of the memorial foundation, said the full quote from Dr. King will be inscribed this September.

"They were actually kind of waiting for the tourist season to die down so they can come in and actually do the work," said Johnson.

Johnson will oversee the project as head of the newly created Friends of the Memorial Foundation.

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