An inaccurate inscription etched into the Martin Luther King memorial in Washington D.C. will be changed to provide the correct context of a quote by the civil rights leader.
The Washington Post first reported Jan. 13 that Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar had ordered the quote changed.
According to the Associated Press, the side of the granite memorial currently bears the inscription “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness,” taken from a February 1968 sermon known as the “Drum Major Instinct,” made just two months before King’s assassination.
However, King’s original words made him seem more modest: “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.”
The altered quote has drawn criticism since the memorial’s opening in October, including from poet Maya Angelou, who according to the AP said the inscribed version makes King sound like “an arrogant twit.”
Salazar said he has ordered the National Park Service to consult the memorial’s organizing foundation and the King family, and report back within 30 days with a plan to correct the memorial.
“This is important because Dr. King and his presence on the Mall is a forever presence for the United States of America, and we have to make sure that we get it right,” Salazar told the Post.