Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Drum Major Quote’ at Memorial to be Fixed


At the urging of members of Martin Luther King Jr.’s family during a recent meeting, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis announced a plan to correct the so-called “Drum Major” quote accompanying the recently dedicated Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. The meeting took place February 6 and everyone agreed a fix was in need to represent the meaning and intent of Dr. King’s original statement more accurately. Currently observers and visitors to the new memorial witness a paraphrased sentence from a passage in a sermon that Dr. King delivered at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1968. The etching in the stone near the left shoulder reads: “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.” The paraphrased sentence will be removed and replaced with the full text of the exact quote. Which is as follows: “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.” Salazar stated during the announcement, “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. 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 following the meeting. “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,” Jarvis said on February 6. “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 NPS is currently exploring a range of options on how to best replace the granite stones, including philanthropic support. Jarvis said he hopes to have the correction completed in time for Dr. King’s birthday celebration in January 2013.