Just Don’t Call Him Ray!

Last Updated on: 3rd August 2021, 11:43 am

I remember hearing about this story back when it happened, pre-blog, sadly, but seeing it again in Snopes made me decide to post about it. We can all laugh now, but I’m sure, at the time, nobody was laughing.

It happened in Lauderhill, Florida in 2002. For their Martin Luther King Day celebrations, they decided to have James Earl Jones come down and speak. They wanted to have a gift to give him to thank him for coming. So, they decided to make a plaque.

They found a local company, who in turn contracted out to another company to do the inscribing. It was supposed to be a plaque with a few postage stamps showing famous African-Americans, including Martin Luther King, and in the middle, it was supposed to say “Thank you James Earl Jones for keeping the dream alive.” It almost did…except…where “Jones” should have been, it said “Ray.”

Just think about that. Who is James Earl Ray? In case you don’t know, as was supposedly the case of the person who actually did the physical inscribing of the plaque, James Earl Ray was who assassinated Martin Luther King. Imagine the significance of that. The whole message has horribly changed.

After officials from the Martin Luther King Day task force and executives from the local ad company finished shitting themselves, they began to track the problem, and found it lay with the other company. What was even worse was the reaction of the other company, saying they were making a mountain out of a mole hill. Really? I don’t think so. This is no mole hill.

They claim it was just an innocent mistake. The person making the James Earl Jones plaque was also making a plaque for a Ray Johnson, and oh dear, the Ray just went on the wrong plaque. I have my doubts, but that’s only my opinion.

Thankfully they caught the error before the plaque was unveiled and were able to fix it, but wow. What a blunder. What a horrible blunder.

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