King's Memorial Overcomes Its Critics

You would have been hard-pressed to find anybody on the National Mall on Sunday willing to criticize the memorial on such a glorious day, writes Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Annette John-Hall. 

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President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama at the King Memorial (Getty)

Despite rampant criticism about the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial during and after its construction, Annette John-Hall writes in her Philadelphia Inquirer column that all animus seemed to be set aside during its dedication on Sunday. It was as if no one wanted to ruin the day, she says.

You'd have been hard-pressed to find anybody on the National Mall on Sunday who would dare criticize the memorial to the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Surely nobody would ruin this glorious day.

But there had been critics. People flocked to see the memorial after Hurricane Irene forced postponement of the Aug. 28 dedication. It was as if the delay brought them all out of the woodwork -- or, in the case of the King memorial, the granite. Why wasn't an African American sculptor chosen instead of Chinese master Lei Yixin, they whined? And why did Lei make King look so mean, with those folded arms? 

And what about the 14 quotations from King's speeches and sermons, carved into the surrounding 450-foot-long inscription wall? Maya Angelou, the author and poet, had a big problem about a truncated quote attributed to King: "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness."

The civil rights leader's exact words: "If you want to say that I was a drum major, say I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the shallow things will not matter."

Read Annette John-Hall's entire column at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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