Memorial prepared for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Striations on the monument signify the statue pulling away from 'Mountain of Despair.' (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
The statue is signed by its sculptor, Lei Yixin. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
The site where the controversial words were removed. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
A close-up of the striations. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)

WASHINGTON – People visiting the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial are seeing the granite statue without the disputed words that were etched in it for the last King holiday.

The phrase, “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness,” was removed by the statue’s sculptor, Lei Yixin.

King’s followers contended that the words were taken out of context and made King sound arrogant.

“Master Lei, the original artist, was able to return last summer and he simply deepened the striations that, in essence, removed the quote,” explains National Park Service Ranger James Perry.

Striations, or grooves, highlight the statue to signify its pulling away from the “Mountain of Despair.”

“The entire memorial had a very light coating of sand blasting to give it an even texture,” Perry says about the finishing touches following the corrective work.

The granite statue looks out over the Tidal Basin, across the waters to the Jefferson Memorial — the monument honoring the author of the Declaration of Independence.

Visitors to the MLK Memorial seem to enjoy the majesty and solitude of the place.

“Oh, I think it’s beautiful place, nice memorial, it’s very serene,” says Marvin Smith of Oxon Hill, Md.

“It’s a very well-received memorial… many years in the process to development and construction and so we’re very glad it’s part of the National Mall,” Perry says.

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