Three months after the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, an inscription on the monument to the civil rights leader is to be corrected.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Friday he has given the National Park Service 30 days to correct the error on the base of the statue.

The inscription reads, "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness."

The misquote was discovered by a Washington Post columnist, who called the quote "an odd choice" for the monument.

Research by the columnist showed the quote was taken from one of King's speeches in which he actually said, "If you want to say I was a drum major, say I was . . ."

"As many have since pointed out, the 'if' and the 'you' entirely change the meaning," the Post reported Friday.

Among those who agree the quote needs to be changed is the poet Maya Angelou, who knew and worked with King. The inscription made King seem like "an arrogant twit," she told the Post.

Salazar told the Post Friday that it was "important" to correct the error because King "and his presence on the Mall is a forever presence for the United States of America" with its conspicuous location in the nation's capital.

Opened on October 16, the memorial is the first monument on the Mall to honor a person of color and the only one of importance named for someone other than a former president of the United States.

It is dedicated to the Baptist preacher's message of "democracy, justice, hope and love" on a space covering four acres, dominated by a rock from which emerges a massive 9.1-meter high statue of the preacher, who was assassinated in 1968.

[Photo by L. Kragt Bakker /]