Sculptor Lei Yixin, left, surveys the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington on July 29 to prepare for removal of an inscription. / Jacquelyn Martin, AP
The national monument dedicated to Martin Luther King is set to be completed by the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
Workers are in the last stages of repairing the $120 million Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial after an inscription that critics said misrepresented the civil rights leader was removed.
The process had been stalled for several days after the monument's creator wanted to use a method not covered by the contractor's insurance, but the issue was resolved.
On Aug. 24, thousands are expected to gather on the National Mall in Washington in memory of the march. Throughout the week, more events will take place, and a large ceremony featuring President Obama is planned for Aug. 28, which marks the exact day King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.
"We're going to be able to get this done for an important anniversary," said National Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson. "We are just really happy that we were able to find a solution that the artist was happy with."
Civil rights activist Maya Angelou, along with several others, have spoken out publicly over the years about the monument's inscription, which originally paraphrased King as saying, "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness."
The controversial phrase was based on the beginning of a 1968 King speech: "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."
To complete the removal of the phrase, the monument's creator, sculptor Lei Yixin, wanted to use a specific method - sandblasting - to smooth over the structure. Contractors working on the changes were not insured for the procedure.
As an alternative, the National Park Service will complete the work through the Historic Preservation Training Center. Workers will use new materials Lei found acceptable.
The work should be done in the next few days, Johnson said. The area where the inscription was will remain blank. Officials plan to announce when work on the monument is done via Twitter.
"It's looking very good," Johnson said. "We wanted to make it available as quickly as possible and make sure the job was done right."
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