National Park Service To Correct Misquote At Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

It won't happen overnight, or perhaps not even by the end of this year, but National Park Service officials are vowing to correct a misquote that's etched into the base of the "Stone of Hope" at the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, after meeting with members of the Civil Rights leader's family earlier this week, announced Friday that the paraphrased "Drum Major" quote on the memorial would be replaced with the full quote.

Observers and visitors to the new memorial have noted that a quote etched in the stone near the statue’s left shoulder is paraphrased from a passage in a sermon that Dr. King delivered at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1968. The paraphrased quote reads: “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”

Under the plan announced Friday, that quote will be removed and replaced with the entire text of the exact quote as delivered by Dr. King: “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.”

“President Obama’s dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial was a proud moment for our country and a reminder of the continuing relevance of Dr. King’s dream of dignity, respect and justice for all,” said Secretary Salazar. “With a monument so powerful and timeless, it is especially important that all aspects of its words, design and meaning stay true to Dr. King’s life and legacy.”

“My Aunt Christine and I along with other family members want to thank Secretary Salazar and the National Park Service for their considerable efforts regarding the correction of the quote on the Monument in order as the Secretary put it ‘to make sure we get it right,’” said Bernice King, Dr. King’s youngest daughter. “As promised, the Secretary and the Park Service involved the family and other interested parties and have accomplished just that with the proposed correction by the Secretary.”

“Under the careful stewardship of the National Park Service, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial will stand for all time,” said Director Jarvis. “Visitors 100 years from now will be inspired by his own words, and know how Dr. King’s leadership advanced the cause of civil rights for all Americans.”

The National Park Service expects that portions of the granite stones that carry the letters of the existing quote will have to be replaced. NPS is exploring a range of options to fund the correction -- reported estimates range up to $600,000 -- including philanthropic support.

Director Jarvis has set a goal of completing the work in time for the celebration of Dr. King’s birthday in January 2013. The full quote was previously approved by the Fine Arts Commission and other required entities during the design review process for the Memorial and therefore it does not need further review before advancing.

There was no word on who was responsible for approving the paraphrased quote.


While they are at it, IMHO they should remove that awful statue and replace it with one that looks more like Dr. King and less like Mao Zedong. Just sayin'

Right on, Bob! Is this memorial the best the Park Service can do for $120 million? It really comes as no surprise the approving official remains unidentified in the opaque NPS; they've probably already been promoted.

I'm of two minds about the monumentality. On the one hand, I get the "mountain" connection and the need for an imposing impression. Yet, the aggressive crossed-arms stance and the fierce look; these don't conicide with my memories of Doctor King.
My question is, how are they going to replace that sound-byte quotation? Wasn't that inscribed into a solid block of granite or are there indeed "granite stones that carry the letters of the existing quote" which can be replaced? From the pictures that I have seen, it looks like one piece of stone to me.

Made in China. Need we say more?

Lee's on the mark. When you hire a sculptor noted for his representations of Mao Zedong in the style of "collectivist realism," you get a stone cold, cross-armed, confrontational MLK who even looks Chinese. Unfortunately, it represents only one aspect of a remarkable personality and influence on our culture and in many respects is the antithesis of King's dream. The foundation could have done much better job memorializing King and promoting his legacy. Of course, the sculpture will fit in perfectly if the Chinese call in their loans and we have to give them the keys to the country.

I'm all in with your depiction of this BS, Road Ranger! The ability for those inside NPS to voice their concerns is what will eventually save NPS! Listen up!

Anonymous 9:03, I'm sorry but there is no reference to the NPS in my post. Please explain your attack and anger directed at what was said. I love the NPS. It was my career for nearly forty years and I'm proud to defend its mission and personnel at every turn.

Sorry, Road Ranger, I thought you were identifying a mistake or possibly that NPS is capable of not being angelic at every turn. All in for NPS at every turn only supports the opaque description that Tahoma offered. How can anything that is wrong with an agency be corrected from the inside with that type of unconditional support. Enter the likes of the Rob Bishops and others in Congress and the public reacting to institutionalized underlying issues.

The Rob Bishops of the world are not "reacting to institutionalized underlying issues".

He in particular, and the rest of his ilk, are more "responding to the internal stimuli of the voices of his Tea Party demons".

Thanks for some clarification, Anonymous 9:03; I misinterpreted some of your post. My criticism was really directed toward the MLK Memorial Foundation but the NPS certainly can't go blameless as you have said. I regret the NPS's timidity in responding to what was a less than ideal product; however, I also understand the tightrope that racial politics presents for the agency. It's damn tough and often results in lose-lose outcomes for stakeholders. Though I revere the mission and people in the organization, please know that I overstated my enthusiam for defending NPS personnel, especially management. The problems are there and they're unfortunately not likely to be corrected from the inside unless we have some visionary and beneficent leadership akin to that of the Mather-Albright era.

Wonder what you would suggest if NPS leadership doesn't feel the need to face and correct issues with their well heeled benefit packages, cronyism, abuse of power and procedures. This definitely exists and only gets a pass because of the tremendously positive image these great places have. How would you encourage the humbling that leadership needs? Possibly recognize those that are a bit more conservative and have the strength to remain verticle in the battles? Most certainly this would only have a chance of happening in a more conservative administration. Just wondering what you might suggest as you seem (now that you've clarified) to see the big picture and have a calm and insiteful manner.

Anonymous, politics is a very broad brush to wield. No one party can claim an exclusive right to "cronyism, abuse of power and procedures."

I would like that to be understood, Kurt. After saying that it shouldn't be accepted just because it happens on both sides of the isle. When it becomes untenable the system has had precedures to correct things. When that ability is diminished or what is growing more evident, directly under attack, it's not good and has many negative repercussions, I'm saying. You've been a great moderator and have had a lot of experience around political circles, what would you suggest? Where you at, Kurt?

Anonymous, I've long thought key was removing politics from the equation. Do that either by giving the NPS director a six-year term, and have a non-partisan committee make his/her appointment. The crux, it seems, is to somehow shield that individual from political gamesmanship/pressures and let them truly act in the best interests of the system's natural, cultural, and historic resources. That'd be a good start.

But then, that's probably too idyllic, no?

Anonymous 9:03, I agree with Kurt on his two points: removing the agency from the political arena is a key move and it will be an extraordinary challenge to do so. I would add another point, that is, moving away from a reliance on federal funding by expanding our park partnership program, especially through long-term corporate partnerships. Granted such a move will present new challenges, but it will help free the NPS from its role as a political puppet. I would add one more position that could be taken on the inside regarding the environmental movement. When it began in the early '60s the movement had about it an altruistic core that was embraced pretty much across the board by the political spectrum. Today, the movement has been captured by the anti-capitalist, unhinged left that has been adrift since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Although the NPS seems to have avoided open identification with the current movement, many of its employees are proud to identify themselves as part of the leftist elite and poised to ridicule those who are not in lockstep with their beliefs. This group needs to understand that there are millions of centrists and conservative environmental advocates - individual and corporate - who have supported the NPS mission in the past and will continue to do so. Such an acknowledgement would be good for the health of the NPS and help it survive the political swings from left to right and back again that are likely in our future.

RoadRanger, very insiteful and I believe correct in what you posted. Breath of fresh air to hear, really!!

Perhaps the apparently successful partnerships between National Public Radio and television networks and their corporate sponsors could serve as a model for future similar partnerships involving NPS.

Most important would be a careful look at exactly how those radio and TV stations shield themselves from undue corporate influence and are able to continue programming that is usually well-balanced and free of peddling and pandering for special interests.

You see where they are correcting the words by MLK. Whay are the not completing the words by FDR on the World War II monument. "so help me God"

Because of the revisionist fantasy world that some would like to support and spread ( I believe).