Poll: Should MLK Memorial Quote Be Changed?

Pruitt Allen / Flickr

The controversy over the quote on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial isn’t over. National Park Service plans to change the quote on the side of King’s statue is drawing criticism from the monument’s executive architect and others.

The quote on King’s statue currently reads, “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.” It’s a paraphrased version of this longer quote, from the end of his “Drum Major” speech:

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.

Some, including poet Maya Angelou, have criticized the paraphrased version, saying it makes King sound arrogant. The monument’s architect says the existing stone can’t be matched and changing the quote “would essentially deface the monument,” reports WAMU 88.5′s Elliott Francis.

Do you think the paraphrased version should be changed, or should the NPS leave the memorial alone? Vote below:

  • Elijah405

    Seems to me at the least that the ‘I’ can be changed to say ‘HE’ somehow? I’m quite sure that some of us with much less talent have changed report card grades from a ‘D’ to ‘B’ !

  • Indispositus

    I agree with Elijah–if you can change it to “he” makes it sound less cocky. There is overwhelming support for changing the quote to the original version. It would be like going to the Lincoln memorial and seeing “I was the sole reason for the end of the Civil War” or the FDR memorial and seeing “I ended the depression and WWII single handedly.” It just makes King look overly arrogant.

  • Anonymous

    the paraphrasing is our way of giving him his due!   The selection of the paraphrase did not happen in a vacuum.   Stop with all this knee-jerk twitching and bitching!