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Reader Poll: The King Memorial Quote Change, Yes or No?

Do you agree with Maya Angelou or Cascade resident and U.S. Congressman John Lewis? Tell us in comments and take our reader poll today!

A quote carved in stone on the new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington will be changed after the inscription was criticized for not accurately reflecting the civil rights leader's words, according to a report on HuffingtonPost.com.

The inscription currently reads: "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness." The phrase is chiseled into one side of a massive block of granite that includes King's likeness emerging from the stone. It became a point of controversy after the memorial opened in August.

A spokesman for the U.S Department of the Interior said Friday that Secretary Ken Salazar decided to have the quote changed.

Poet Maya Angelou has spoken out against the quote, saying last year that it makes Dr. King "sound like an arrogant twit," according to a report in The Christian Science Monitor and other news outlets. Meanwhile, a report on WXIA-TV has reported that U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Cascade resident and former King lieutenant, is downplaying the controversy, saying "The memorial is beautiful and so appropriate."

The phrase on King's monument is modified from a 1968 sermon in Memphis known as the "Drum Major Instinct," in which the 39-year-old King explained to his Atlanta congregation how he would like to be remembered at his funeral. This is what Dr. King actually said:

"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."

Considering King's Atlanta roots and the large number of civil rights activists who live in greater southwest Atlanta, Cascade Patch wants to take a poll and find out what you think.

Do you agree with Dr. Angelou? Do you think the decision to change the quote is the right one? Or, do you agree with Congressman Lewis and believe the words appropriately sum up King's role as the leader of the 1960s movement?

Share your view in comments and take our poll below. We want to hear from you!

Alan January 15, 2012 at 11:58 AM
It seems the artist did what so many do in the social media age, he condensed Dr King's words. But some things ought not be condensed. Use a smaller case, but leave that words as they were spoken.
Sue Ross January 15, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Yes, all the other words at the King Monument are direct quotations; of course, providing the structual integrity of the work is maintained.
Edwina Owens Elliott January 15, 2012 at 03:17 PM
With all due respect to Dr. Angelou, she was invited to participate in the design of this monument and, from what I read, she never attended a meeting. So I found it highly inappropriate for her to criticize it after the fact. With that noted, while I think Dr. King should have been quoted accurately in the first place, to change it now seems a bit trivial. But in a few years time, it won't matter. The monument itself takes precedence over all the squabbling.
Tess Vismale January 15, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Historical accuracy should not be changed. That is a problem with our educational system.
Jennifer Freeman January 15, 2012 at 05:55 PM
A sentence taken out of the context of the whole quote can lessen the power for which it was said. I am happy it's going to be changed. It's unfortunate Dr. Angelou was not in attendance to express her literary expertise before now.
Glen McDaniel January 15, 2012 at 06:06 PM
There is something called artistic license. However in this case the license taken has the odd effect of almost contradicting the real/original quote. King was saying that if people wanted to give him accolades and history wanted to recognize his work, they should not make it a personal aggrandisement, instead hey should say he was fervent in the advancement of justice, peace and righteousness. The quote as it now stands is more "me, me me ." Better to correct an inaccurate quote now than later. I think this is a good move on the part of the administration
Leslye "JOY" Allen January 15, 2012 at 09:13 PM
I have to agree with Jennifer Freeman, Glen McDaniel and Tess Vismale. I am a historian and I know how often quotes from historical figures are taken out of context.
M Jackson January 15, 2012 at 09:48 PM
I thought right from the beginning that the quote should have been changed. It's another example of our new, condensed communication style which is inappropriate in this context. Many people will visit the memorial that do not know it is the condensed version and leave with a very different impression than originally intended.
Delores "Dee" Turner January 17, 2012 at 03:10 AM
The quote should be changed. So much history is being changed and glamorized and not for the good. We should make this change sooner than later.
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