It was taken from a 1968 speech where King said: “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.”
A design change reportedly forced designers to shorten the quote.
“The quote makes Dr. Martin Luther King look like an arrogant twit,” author Maya Angelou told The Washington Post on Tuesday. “He was anything but that. He was far too profound a man for that four-letter word to apply.”
The memorial, which is located along the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., has been open to the public for just over a week.
The official dedication ceremony for the memorial, originally planned for Aug. 28, was canceled due to Hurricane Irene. Organizers plan to re-schedule the event sometime in September or October, but have yet to announce a date.