Taking a few words at their meaning, out of context with the events, or in some cases hundreds of words surrounding them is a recipe for disaster. In particular, the Rev. Martin Luther King, whose speeches and collective will driven by the righteousness of our cause shook our national psyche to it’s very foundations, left us with a number or speeches and written words left us with a number of “quotable moments” which cannot be distilled without context.
My parents, being educators collected a number of King’s Speeches and much of his oratory on old 33 1/3 RPM records allowing us to go back and review and rehear his speeches, discussions, and debates again and again. I would guess that well North of several thousand published works document the Civil Rights period, making it, WWII, and the Great Depression the most documented and detailed events of the past century.
So it is a little distressing when they get it wrong on the Memorial…
The arc of a mistake is long, and it now stretches from the Oval Office over to the Mall.
An error has been etched in marble on the grand Martin Luther King Jr. memorial that was to be dedicated Sunday, on the 48th anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Some of King’s speeches and writings have been inscribed in the memorial. But one of the sayings on the wall by the Tidal Basin is incorrect — or incomplete — in its attribution.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
According to David Remnick’s biography of Obama, that is the president’s “favorite quotation.” Obama brought the idea back into present-day parlance and even had it sewn into the rug in the Oval Office when he redecorated last year. But as I wrote on this page last September, King is not the source of that quote. (more…)