Drum Major quote removal from MLK Jr Memorial

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Date: July 19, 2013

National Park Service to Begin Work to Remove 
Drum Major Quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 19, 2013) — The National Park Service (NPS) will begin preparatory work onMonday, July 22, to remove the “Drum Major” inscription from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. The work will be done by NPS contractor Worcester Eisenbrandt, Inc (WEI) and will include mobilization of trailers, lifts and other equipment and erection of scaffolding, and is being done prior to the arrival of the original sculptor who will remove the quote.

Sculptor Master Lei Yixin is expected to arrive the week ofJuly 29 to begin the stone work. Plans call for the work to be completed in time the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

The quote will be removed by carving striations over the lettering to match the existing 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 Master Lei as the safest way to ensure the structural integrity of the memorial.

As it now stands, the paraphrased quotation reads: "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness." But critics, including the poet Maya Angelou, said that the paraphrased inscription distorts the meaning of the full quote.

The memorial will remain open during the work, although access to some areas of the memorial will be affected.


Last updated: April 10, 2015

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