Visitors to the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. appear divided over plans to change an inscription on the main statue.
The inscription currently reads: "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness." It's not a direct quote. It's a paraphrase from a sermon Dr. King delivered about two months before his assassination. In that sermon, he discussed how he might like to be remembered at his funeral, and was possibly responding to criticism that King was merely a drum major.
In the sermon, King said, "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."
Critics, including the famous poet Maya Angelou, believe the paraphrase is inaccurate and out-of-context. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has ordered the inscription changed.
"He was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness," opined Marcel Kouaho, of Southwest Washington, D.C. Kouaho believes the paraphrased inscription properly captures the essence of King's character. So does Jean Williams of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, who said the current inscription is part of the artist's "rendition of things."
When read the full quote, more visitors told us they support changing the inscription. "Quote him fully," declared Dianne Crawford, of Pikesville, Maryland. Not part of it, but everything that he said." Karen Stevens of Alexandria, Virginia agreed, and said the inscription "absolutely" needs to be changed.
The King family, and others, will be consulted over the next month in an effort to forge a consensus on what words should be added to clarify the inscription.
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