Ken Salazar approves final fix on Martin Luther King Memorial -- "if" only

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The situation was stupid enough that Ken Salazar probably wanted to punch someone. When the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was unveiled in 2011, eagle-eyed wordsmiths quickly pointed out that one of the quotes etched into the granite monument had taken King's words out of context, making him seem like "an arrogant twit," said poet Maya Angelou. All because of a missing "if."

But coming up with a fix to the flub has taken over a year. In January, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar -- who left his seat as senator from Colorado to join the Barack Obama administration, and last month threatened to punch a reporter who asked him a question about the department's wild-horse policies -- gave the National Park Service thirty days to correct the mangled quote.

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Ken Salazar.
The actual quote came from one of King's speeches, sometimes referred to as the "drum major" speech: "If you want to say I was a drum major, say I was a drum major for peace and righteousness."

But the quote carved into the side of the MLK memorial omitted the word "if" -- giving a new meaning not just to King's original statement, but also the meaning of "chiselers."

Without the "if" that started that sentence, the remaining words made King seem arrogant, critics said; when he set this thirty-day deadline back in January, Salazar said the abbreviated quote was not "an accurate portrayal of what Dr. King was."

But coming up with the solution took more than thirty days, of course -- the memorial is in Washington, after all. Finally, eleven months later, the Interior Department announced yesterday it had a plan. Rather than cut into the granite to put in the complete quote -- and risk damaging the piece, adding insult to the injury to King's reputation -- the fix now calls for removing the offending inscription altogether.

Continue for more about the proposed fix to the Martin Luther King Memorial.


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