Martin Luther King, Jr. and 'The Drum Major Instinct' Controversy September 12, 2011
Upon the unveiling of the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. there was some controversy around one of the quotes used on the memorial. Inscribed on the side of the memorial, the quote reads 'I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.'
I don't believe anyone would doubt that Martin Luther King Jr. was in fact just that, and if you listen to the full Drum Major Instinct speech from which the quote was derived you will see that MLK does - in slightly different words - say that this is how he would like to be remembered. So in a way it is a fitting quote to use in this scenario, however the presentation of the quote out of context and not taken in its entirety creates a sense that the man was full of himself, or 'arrogant' in the words of Maya Angelou, when in actuality he was quite humble.
In this world of fast talk and not-enough-time, TV talk-bites summarize the news and the larger context - nuances and often meaning of what is said - are frequently lost. At Sweet Speeches that larger context is key to what we do and the value we provide. So if you go to see the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C., we hope that before you do you will take the time to listen to and read the The Drum Major Instinct speech below. Hear Dr. King preach against arrogance and guide people in how to harness this instinct to extract its positive aspects without letting the negative elements pollute one's actions. And finally, hear Martin Luther King speak about the things that he would like to be remembered for - in his own words (all of them).
With respect ~ DJ Sweet Speeches
Martin Luther King Jr. - The Drum Major Instinct:
Having heard the actual speech, do you feel that the quote as used misrepresents Dr. King? Should it be rewritten or do you feel it's much ado about nothing and that future visitors and tourists will know enough of Dr. Martin Luther King to know that he was a more humble person than the quote suggests?