Martin Luther King Memorial Dedicated In D.C.

Not everyone is pleased; Maya Angelou, for one, objects to a misquote

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The national memorial to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is being formally dedicated Sunday in Washington. The ceremony had been scheduled to coincide with the August anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech on the National Mall, but was moved as Hurricane Irene slammed into the east coast.

President Barack Obama will preside at the dedication. But some are not too happy about the memorial.

One objector is sculptor Ed Dwight, who has sculpted King's image himself, and says the sculpture at the memorial makes the non-violent leader look confrontational. Dwight also objects to the fact that the sculptor of the memorial monument, Lei Yixin, is from China, CNN reports.

The more noteworthy dissenter is Maya Angelou, who says a quote of King included in the memorial has been sloppily edited. "I was a drum major for justice peace and righteous," it reads. (A drum major for the serial comma he apparently was not.)

Angelou says an important clause was taken out of the passage from a 1968 sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

King's original words were: "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."

Leaving out the "if" changes the meaning, Angelou said.

"It should not be seen like he was so full of himself. Because he was not. He was a very humble man," she said. "It is not an apt reportage of what Dr. King said. It is an edited statement."

The memorial's designers stand by their monument. "In no way do we believe that this paraphrased statement diminishes Dr. King's intent of the words he delivered," the executive architect of the monument told CNN. "The inscription on the Stone of Hope comes directly from Dr. King's words."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.