In the wake of the discension around one quote on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial that had some in an uproar, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today provided an update on the path forward regarding the Memorial.
Following discussions with all parties, that included a range of stakeholders, to make alterations to the “Drum Major” quote that had some believing the quote made King seem arrogant, the updated plan calls for removing the quote by carving striations over the lettering to match the existing scratch marks on the sculpture that represent the tearing of the “Stone of Hope” from the “Mountain of Despair.”
The plan to remove, instead of replace, the quote was recommended by the original sculptor, Master Lei Yixin, as the safest way to ensure the structural integrity of the memorial was not compromised.
After close consultation with all parties, Secretary Salazar, the National Park Service, the King family and the Memorial Foundation, and Master Lei Yixin all concur that this is the best path forward.
“The memorial stands as a testament to Dr. King’s struggle for civil rights, and a dream of dignity, respect and justice for all,” said Salazar. “I am proud that all parties have come together on a resolution that will help ensure the structural integrity of this timeless and powerful monument to Dr. King’s life and legacy.”
Said Dr. King's youngest daughter and CEO of the King Center in Atlanta, Bernice King, “We are grateful that Secretary Salazar’s office and the National Park Service has taken such care to maintain the spirit and appearance of such an important monument to our country’s history and my father’s memory.”
The memorial will remain open to visitors during the corrective work; however, due to scaffolding and partial coverage of the sculpture, visitors should expect limited visibility during periods of the process.
In order to ensure the best visitor experience during the Dr. King’s birthday and the 2013 Presidential Inauguration, and to address weather concerns, work will begin February - March 2013, and is estimated to be completed by spring 2013.
“The King Memorial has a special meaning to so many visitors to the National Mall,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “We want to make sure that the many thousands of people expected to visit on Dr. King’s birthday are able to see and experience this powerful tribute to Dr. King.”
“Over the past year, The Memorial Foundation has been working with the National Park Service and Sculptor Master Lei to move forward with changes to the MLK Memorial. We have come up with a design solution that will not harm the integrity of this work of art. We are pleased with the recommendation and look forward to its completion," said Harry Johnson, President/CEO of The Memorial Foundation, formerly known as the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Foundation.
“While our family would have of course preferred to have the entire ‘Drum Major’ quote used, we fully endorse and support the Secretary’s proposal,” said Dr. Christine King Farris, Dr. King’s sister.The plan will be submitted to the Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission in January for their review as appropriate.
Dr. Maya Angelou, poet emeritus, called for the quotes change.
Dr. King's originial speech stated, "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."
The Memorial has just a part of the quote, "I was a drum major for justice", a very shortened version of the longer quote that may have not been able to completely fit where the partial quote is placed.
One of Angelou's many famous includes includes “The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.”