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MLK Memorial Quote Won't Be Changed

Monument's architect stands by paraphrase

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Visitors flock to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on its opening day. Since it opened, some people have taken issue with a paraphrased quote inscribed on the memorial.
Elliott Francis
Visitors flock to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on its opening day. Since it opened, some people have taken issue with a paraphrased quote inscribed on the memorial.

The executive architect of the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington says an inscription on the monument won't be changed, according to the Washington Post.

The decision comes in spite of criticism from poet Maya Angelou and the Washington Post. The monument's architect, Ed Jackson Jr., says he stands by the paraphrased line from King's "drum major" sermon delivered two months before his assassination in 1968.

In the speech Dr. King said, "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." The shortened version reads: "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness."

Angelou criticized the paraphrase saying it makes Dr. King sound arrogant. The Washington Post editorial called the effort "ham handed" and urged a revision to the inscription. Jackson says the line has historical perspective, and allows Dr. King to define himself. He adds there is no way it can be altered, and there have been no official calls for the inscription to be changed.

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