A Maine newspaper that was criticized for publishing an edited version of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech has offered an apology.
The Bangor Daily News said it had used an abridged version of the speech several times over the years, but it was criticized by a historian, cable news show host and others for “whitewashing” the address over the weekend.
The editorial board wrote Tuesday that editors believed the speech, at 1,600 words, was too long to run in its entirety as an editorial, but added that “our thinking needs to be revisited.”
Some of the removed passages referred to Jim Crow laws, “vicious racists” and “unspeakable horrors of police brutality.”
Every year, King’s daughter, Bernice King, warns about distorting her father’s words. She tweeted on Monday that her father’s dream “wasn’t palpable to the white masses” and she added: “We need to know the authentic King…The Inconvenient King.”
The newspaper’s editorial board said it understood its error after hearing directly from several people who explained the edited message “ignored the essence of King’s speech and was damaging to Black Mainers.”
The board said it doesn’t want to be cast as the “white moderates” who preferred peace over justice that King cited in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” And it said it was heeding his words from that letter: “The time is always ripe to do right.”
“Today, for us, doing right means admitting we were wrong to simply reprint an old editorial, and pledging to continue our work of being a voice for equality, freedom and justice,” the board responded Tuesday.