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'Drum Major' Quote on MLK Memorial to Be Erased

The much-maligned "quote" that was carved into the side of the new Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, D.C. is, after much debate, going to be erased.

As I noted here, the memorial was supposed to bear a quote from King from a speech called "The Drum Major Instinct," in which King stated:

"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." 

At some point, however, the lead architect and the sculptor decided that the memorial would look better with fewer words, and decided to edit King's words as shown in the finished product:

KING Memorial

This effort at brevity, however, drew howls of protest from people like the poet Maya Angelou, who stated that the edited quote made King seem like "an arrogant twit." After almost a full year of discussion about replacing the quote with the full version above, the Interior Department decided this week that it would be better to simply remove the quote altogether. Ed Jackson Jr., the executive architect on the project, said that any effort to use the full quote "would have looked like a patch job for the life of the memorial.” 

According to The Washington Post, the plan is now to "cut out the inscription to make it look like one of the horizontal 'striations' already in the memorial." However, the removal process will cut deeper than the existing striations, meaning that those existing striations will also probably need to be gouged deeper. The cost to remove the quote is expected to be $700,000 and $900,000.

Posted by Bruce Carton on December 12, 2012 at 04:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

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