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US to change disputed quote on MLK Memorial

After months of controversy, a quote on the Martin Luther King Jr.'s memorial will be changed to more fully reflect what the civil right leader said. NBC's Lester Holt reports.

A quotation inscribed on the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial will be changed following months of complaints that the statement was edited out of its original context, a spokesman said Friday.

The quotation on the left side of the memorial, which opened in August in a park near the National Mall in Washington, reads: "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness." 

Advocates have complained since then that the quotation makes King appear self-righteous or arrogant, pointing out that what King actually said in Atlanta on Feb. 4, 1968, was this:

"If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter."

Rachel Manteuffel, a columnist for The Washington Post, wrote in an opinion piece Friday that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had given the National Park Service 30 days to consult with the King Memorial Foundation and others, including members of King's family, to find a better quotation.

Interior Department press secretary Adam Fetcher confirmed Salazar's order, NBC News' Kelly O'Donnell reported from Washington.

You can read Manteuffel's Post column here

Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images

An inscription on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington misrepresents King's ideas, critics say.

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