ONE would think that something carved in stone would be correct.
That, however, isn’t true of a so-called quotation on the granite memorial honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. whose birthday anniversary will be observed this month.
Granted, it’s easy to make mistakes but when a quotation is going to be carved on a memorial, some double-checking should be done.
Since the memorial opened, some people have been critical that the paraphrased quote – “I was a drum major for peace, justice and righteous” – misrepresents King’s words.
Maya Angelou, poet and author, contends that those words make King “look like an arrogant twit.”
Designers had planned to use the full drum major quotation on another face of the memorial but then decided to use another quotation.
Then, King’s words — “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. – didn’t fit on another face of the memorial so they shortened it to 10 words.
Angelou, a member of the memorial’s advisory committee, wasn’t consulted. News reports fail to say whether any committee members were made aware of the change, but it’s obvious that more attention should be given to the matter.
When the word, “I,” is used in a statement, it appears to be a direct quotation whether intended to be or not.
IT WAS announced in January of last year that a correction would be made, but it wasn’t until December that Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced an updated plan for removing the quotation by carving striations over the lettering to match existing marks on the sculpture.
Estimated cost is $700,000 to $900,000, and it reportedly is to be privately funded. (Let’s hope so.)
The proposed change is being submitted this month to two commissions for review, and if approved, work is expected to be completed in the spring.
It’s too bad more care wasn’t taken in the first place.