Change made to King Memorial shows how words matter

Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

Visitors gathered at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington last month in observance of his birthday.

RE “PARK service to fix King inscription’’ (Page A2, Feb. 11): Maya Angelou was right to say that the current inscription on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington - a shortened quote from the civil rights leader - makes King sound like an “arrogant twit.’’ She was also correct to demand that the National Park Service remove the abbreviated current inscription on the granite memorial and replace it with the full and accurate quotation.

As a poet, artist, and activist, Angelou knows the power of words. She knows that every word in King’s original address counts.


The executive architect of the monument, Ed Jackson, announced that making the change in the stone would be tantamount to “defacing’’ and “scarring [the memorial] for life.’’ For the sake of aesthetics, he prefers the current paraphrased version rather than the actual quote from a speech that ignited and inspired the most powerful civil rights movement in America’s history.

Posterity will care far less about two different colors of granite on this important monument than that we have the accurate and profound quotation of King’s words.

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Jonathan D. Scott

Jamaica Plain

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