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Thursday, 17 January, 2002, 12:41 GMT
Anger over King tribute 'mix-up'
James Earl Jones
James Earl Jones is behind the voice of Darth Vader
A plaque honouring actor James Earl Jones at a Florida event marking Martin Luther King Day has instead paid tribute to James Earl Ray - the man who killed the civil rights leader.

This was a mistake, a very unfortunate mistake

Merit Industries
Over a background featuring stamps of famous black Americans, including King, the erroneous plaque read: "Thank you James Earl Ray for keeping the dream alive."

Ray shot King in a Memphis hotel in 1968.

The plaque is being corrected in time for the actor's visit to a ceremony in Lauderhill, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale, this Saturday.

Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King was shot in 1968
Gerald Wilcox, owner of the company which ordered the plaque, said: "We were very upset. We wanted to find out how a mistake of this magnitude could occur and to try to determine if it was deliberate or not."

Mr Wilcox said his company, Adpro, made it clear to the plaque's manufacturer, Texas-based Merit Industries, that the message was for James Earl Jones.

The Tony Award-winning actor provided the voices of Darth Vader in Star Wars and Mufasa in The Lion King.

James Earl Ray
Ray died in prison in 1998
Merit Industries said the mix-up was caused by a typographical error.

"I apologise to whoever I need to apologise to. This was a mistake, a very unfortunate mistake," said Herbert Miller of Merit Industries.

Merit had offered to correct the plaque, but Adpro turned down the offer, accusing the company of being "culturally insensitive".

The correction is being made by a local firm.

King is honoured across the United States on 21 January, Martin Luther King Day.

See also:

09 Jun 00 | Americas
Luther King plot ruled out
04 Apr 98 | Americas
A martyr for justice
23 Apr 98 | Americas
Luther King killer dead
26 Apr 98 | Americas
King family invited to Ray's funeral
08 Dec 99 | Americas
Jury backs King conspiracy theory
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