Washington: The US authorities have planned to resolve a controversy over a 10-word inscription on the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial by removing it altogether, rather than replacing it, according to a report.
US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the plan on Tuesday to try to end the uproar, which grew out of an inscription that critics said made King sound arrogant.
The Interior Department, which had earlier announced that the inscription would be replaced, said it should be removed to protect the “structural integrity” of the three-storey statue of King where it appears, the Washington Post reports.
“I am proud that all parties have come together on a resolution,” Salazar said, according to an Interior Department statement.
“The memorial stands as a testament to Dr King’s struggle for civil rights, and a dream of dignity, respect and justice for all,” he added.
According to the Post, the work is expected to cost between USD 700,000-900,000 and will be paid for by a special fund created by the memorial foundation and turned over to the National Park Service for maintenance.
The inscription in question comes from a sermon King delivered two months before he was assassinated in 1968.
Speaking to the congregation of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, King had critiqued what he called the egotistical “drum major instinct”, shorthand for a showboat who leads the parade, the paper said.
“Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice,” King said. “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,” he had said.
But that was distilled to the inscription on the north face of the memorial’s statue: ‘I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness. It was designed to match an equally brief inscription on the south face: Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.’