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Disputed quotation erased from Martin Luther King monument
Scaffolding surrounds the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial August 1, 2013 in Washington, DC. Lei Yixin, the master sculptor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, joined by members of the National Park Service, have begun removing the controversial “drum major” inscription on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and the NPS said Tuesday the task should be finished for the 50th anniversary next month of King’s famous March on Washington. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI.
WASHINGTON (AFP).- The Chinese sculptor who created the Martin Luther King Memorial on the National Mall in Washington said Thursday that a disputed inscription on its side has now been completely removed.

Lei Yixin told reporters that his team, which has been at work all week, is putting the final touches on the white granite monument ahead of the 50th anniversary of civil rights leader's "I Have a Dream" address.

Dedicated two years ago, the much-visited landmark features several historic quotations from King, who was assassinated by a sniper in Memphis, Tennessee in April 1968.

But one inscription -- "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness" -- was challenged by critics who thought it cast King in an arrogant light.

What King actually said, in a sermon two months before his death, was more humble in tone. It began: "Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice..."

Bob Vogel of the National Park Service said Lei's work -- at a cost of up to $800,000 -- will be completed before the August 28 anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the nearby Lincoln Memorial.

Washington is planning a week of events to mark the occasion, including a re-enactment of the 250,000-strong civil rights march on the US capital that preceded King's stirring address.

The Martin Luther King Memorial, the only one in the National Mall dedicated to an African-American, cost $56 million to create.

© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse

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Disputed quotation erased from Martin Luther King monument

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