The MLK memorial is (thankfully) going to be revised to have a proper quote from the civil rights activist:
“I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness,” the monument says. What an odd choice for a quote, I thought, when I visited in August before its scheduled dedication. It sounded almost … conceited. And it was past tense, as though King was speaking from the grave. It didn't sound like King at all.
I went looking for the context, read the whole speech and found there was a reason it didn't sound like him. “If you want to say I was a drum major, say I was …” is how King began his statement. As many have since pointed out, the “if” and the “you” entirely change the meaning. To King, being a self-aggrandizing drum major was not a good thing; if you wanted to call him that, he said, at least say it was in the service of good causes.
Context, as one of my professors from Covenant likes to say, is king. I'm glad that Martin Luther King's context, a context that does not sound conceited, is going to be restored.