Architect: MLK Inscription on Monument Is Staying

It's not wrong, it's just 'succinct,' he says

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 3, 2011 11:54 AM CDT

(Newser) – Those who think the truncated quote attributed to Martin Luther King on his new DC memorial do a disservice to the man are just going to have to deal with it. The chief architect defends the quotation and says he has no plans to tweak it, reports the Washington Post. It reads, “I was a drum major for justice, peace, and righteousness." What King actually said was, “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 include Maya Angelou, who said the shortened version makes King sound like a boastful and "arrogant twit." They want the qualifying "if" to be part of the inscription, but architect Ed Jackson said it won't happen. The inscription is not intended to be a direct quote, and adding an "if" would make King sound unsure of himself, he said. "We have the historical perspective. We can say emphatically he was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness. ... You can't get any more succinct than that."

The Martin Luther King Memorial is seen along the tidal basin on the National Mall in Washington.
The Martin Luther King Memorial is seen along the tidal basin on the National Mall in Washington.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
The new MLK memorial in Washington.
The new MLK memorial in Washington.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
An inscription is seen on the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington.
An inscription is seen on the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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