WAMU 88.5 : News

Sculptor Removes 'Drum Major' Inscription On MLK Memorial

Play associated audio
The existing inscription will be replaced with grooves matching those already on the memorial.
Markette Smith
The existing inscription will be replaced with grooves matching those already on the memorial.

The controversial "drum major" inscription has been removed from the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial.

Lei Yixin, the master sculptor behind the memorial, says the controversy surrounding the paraphrased quotation did not surprise him, because all art provokes controversial discussion.

Lei will replace the "drum major" inscription with carved grooves matching other grooves already present on the sculpture. Critics said the inscription made King sound arrogant: "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness."

The exact words, taken from a sermon Dr. King delivered in 1968 are: "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."

Lei says he still feels honored to be part of the project.

"Right now, the statue really looks good — he thinks Americans will not regret picking him as the sculptor of record," says Lei, speaking through his son.

The work, which the Park service says will be complete before the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, is costing somewhere between $700,000 to $800,000.

WAMU 88.5

Rita Dove: "Collected Poems: 1974 - 2004"

A conversation with Rita Dove, former U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winner.


Frozen Food Fears: 4 Things To Know About The Listeria Recall

The FDA issued a massive recall of frozen fruits and vegetables this week. Here's what you need to know about the nasty bug that's causing all the problems.
WAMU 88.5

Back From The Breach: Moving The Federal Workforce Forward

A year after a massive cyber breach compromised the databases of the Office of Personnel Management, Kojo talks with OPM Acting Director Beth Cobert about her agency and key issues facing the federal workforce.

WAMU 88.5

Why Medical Error Is The Third Leading Cause Of Death In The U.S.

New research shows medical error is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 250,000 people a year. Why there are so many mistakes, and what can be done to improve patient safety.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.