City Desk

Interior Secretary Wants MLK Quote Changed

The Post reports that after months, Secretary of the Department of the Interior Ken Salazar has given the National Park Service a 30-day deadline to find a solution to the incorrect Martin Luther King Jr. quote on the new memorial.

“I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness,” the monument says. What an odd choice for a quote, I thought, when I visited in August before its scheduled dedication. It sounded almost . . . conceited. And it was past tense, as though King was speaking from the grave. It didn’t sound like King at all.

I went looking for the context, read the whole speech and found there was a reason it didn’t sound like him. “If you want to say I was a drum major, say I was . . . ” is how King began his statement. As many have since pointed out, the “if” and the “you” entirely change the meaning. To King, being a self-aggrandizing drum major was not a good thing; if you wanted to call him that, he said, at least say it was in the service of good causes.

Of all of the problems with the memorial, it's nice to see one is getting fixed.

Photo by Lydia DePillis

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  • mikey

    Great idea. Fix it and deduct the cost from the salary of the bureaucrats who approved it. Or just fire them and get on with the whole government downsizing business.