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Process to Begin to Remove ‘Drum Major’ Quote From MLK Jr. Memorial

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"I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness" to be removed from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Credit: George Mesthos/All-News 99.1 WNEW)

“I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness” to be removed from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Credit: George Mesthos/All-News 99.1 WNEW)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - The National Park Service is set to begin preparation to remove the controversial “Drum Major” inscription from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in D.C.

“I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness” the quote reads, but is really more of a paraphrase for the words Dr. King actually said – a paraphrase which poet Maya Angelou says leaves him sounding arrogant.

“If they’re going to replace it, then they should replace it with the right words, but they shouldn’t leave it off altogether,” one visitor to the memorial told WNEW.

Master Lei Yixin, the sculptor of the memorial, felt removing the quote, as opposed to replacing it, was the safest way to ensure the integrity of the structure.

On Monday, lifts, trailers and other equipment will be moved into place, and scaffolding will be erected around the 30-foot monument, to allow Yixin to begin the removal process, which involves carving striations over the lettering to match the existing marks on the sculpture.

The memorial will remain open during the removal process, which should be completed by the end of August, just in time for the 50th Anniversary of the historic March on Washington.

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