Angelou: Misleading Quote Makes King Look Like 'Twit'
...and 'arrogant' and an 'egoist,' she complains
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2011 9:21 AM CDT
The Martin Luther King Memorial is seen along the tidal basin on the National Mall in Washington, the morning after Hurricane Irene moved through the East Coast, Sunday, Aug., 28, 2011.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(Newser) – Add Maya Angelou to the chorus of voices who are none too pleased with how the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial turned out. There's already been some hullabaloo over the fact that one of the quotes on the wall by the Tidal Basin wasn't actually uttered by King, but the one Angelou has a gripe with is a little more prominent: It's on the north face of the memorial itself. It reads, "I was a drum major for justice, peace, and righteousness." The line "makes Dr. Martin Luther King look like an arrogant twit," she said yesterday.

Thing is, that line isn't exactly what he said. It had to be paraphrased following a change in the statue's design, a decision that was made without checking with Angelou, who consulted on the project, reports the Washington Post. The original quote, which came from a sermon he gave two months before he was killed, reads, "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." Angelou, who would like the quote changed, says that "the 'if' clause that is left out is salient. Leaving it out changes the meaning completely. It makes him seem less than the humanitarian he was. . . . It makes him seem an egotist." (And in other misquote news...)

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Showing 3 of 10 comments
guvner
Aug 31, 2011 9:31 PM CDT
Since we're talking quotes...Among the MLK quotes carved in the monument includes the famous: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." Obama has it woven in some stupid rug in the WH, and apparently it's his favorite. Understandable, it's a wonderfully expressed sentiment. Problem is, the quote is lifted: " one of the sayings on the wall by the Tidal Basin is incorrect — or incomplete — in its attribution. " http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/at-king-ceremony-a-chance-to-bend-toward-justice/2011/08/25/gIQAikUkeJ_story.html This was common knowledge since at least a year ago: " King was in fact echoing the words of 19th century abolitionist and Unitarian minister Theodore Parker. " http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129609461 Obama got criticized for snubbing the original: " A mistake has been made in the Oval Office makeover that goes beyond the beige. " http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/03/AR2010090305100.html
guvner
Aug 31, 2011 9:15 PM CDT
The memorial didn't rise to her expectations.
Just_Dave
Aug 31, 2011 2:28 PM CDT
Maya Angelou is one of our greatest living Americans. If she says change it, then change it.