Wow, we can certainly see how this can become a very sticky situation: You have the family of an icon battling with colleagues who worked diligently, side by side with that icon, when the icon was alive. Now the question is, well, let’s let Mr. Young pose it:

“The question is whose legacy is it? And I agree that it’s their legacy, and that the copyright images of their father need to be protected by them. But I also feel that I’m doing the same thing for nothing and I will not give up my right to the legacy for their right to the legacy,” Andrew Young said recently in an interview with The Associated Press.

Now let’s go back to what we think is the beginning.

Dr. Martin Luther King and Young, a civil rights activist and top aide to King, shared a common goal: the tireless fight for civil rights. Side by side they met, talked, shared, slept, dreamed and more. Now, the family of the slain civil rights leader has put that relationship in jeopardy. They have an issue with Young, and as a result, have issued a lawsuit.

The points of legal contention are who has the rights to King’s words and image, and how far do those rights extend. Andrew Young is facing the wrath over footage of King that shows up in a series produced by his foundation. And Young is not alone in these legal negotiations. Actor Harry Belafonte also has issues with the children; albeit in a separate case, where he, too, is debating ownership of some King documents.

See how messy this can be?

At the heart of the conflict is the lawsuit filed by King’s sons, Martin Luther King III and Dexter King, who are chairman and president/CEO control their father’s estate. This includes his image and his papers, versus The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, which is run by King’s daughter, Bernice, where Young serves as a member of the board.

The estate’s suit requests that the Center be stopped from using King’s image and likeness unless certain conditions are met. Among those conditions is that Young be removed from the Center’s board of directors over allegations that he used footage of King in a documentary without permission.

Not taking sides here but, does it appear strange that King’s sons don’t want their father’s “image and likeness” to be used at an organization MLK actually started, and is now run by his daughter…conditions be darned?

The lawsuit was filed Aug. 28, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington where King made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Hmm, wasn’t the family actually involved in a bus accident that day? When did they have time to file a lawsuit?

Young, a King confidante who helped coordinate civil rights efforts throughout the South, takes issue about his use of footage in which both he and King appear.

“They said I infringed on their copyright. Well, I don’t think so, because I think it was my right — it’s mine also.”

See, this is the “messy” part because Young was in the video too!

But despite facing legal action from people he has been close to for years, Young was philosophical.

“I understand the reason for it. I think it’s the way things go, and the way probably they ought to go,” the former Atlanta mayor, congressman and United Nations ambassador said. “We took many cases to court, simply to have the doctrines clarified and to have a court consider the merits.”

A lawyer for the King estate, Miles Alexander, declined to comment on any litigation. Bernice King could not be reached for comment.

Hmm…That’s probably best, but really, how long can one run and hide from an issue that probably won’t just disappear?

Then there is the question of “intent.” Why is a lawsuit happening anyway? Jelani Cobb, history professor and director of the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Connecticut, has his own theory on that.

“The legal action Dr. King was concerned about was about broadening access,” Cobb said. “The legal action that we see most prominently from the King children is about broadening their own financial possibilities and protecting their copyright.”

7 thoughts on “King Children Initiate Lawsuit Against Top MLK Aide, Andrew Young

  1. Rayar Johnson on said:

    With all the world watching the King’s children grow-up, with all the added in-house values taught by Dr. King . How dare you disgrace his legacy with fueds over money.
    Children through internet searches, want to know more about Dr. King and pops up your names in a negative light; in the shadows of the torch. Dr. Martin Luther King is a inspiration to so many; none of his words and his deeds inspire you enough to handle whatever situation in peace and love.
    This is descipble behavior. I am ashamed for you. Dr. King taught you all, how to handle your disposition with brotherly and sisterly love. You should apologize to America for your imporable behaviors. You should promise to the Nation a compromise . You should always have a mediator reminding you:” What would Dr. Martin Luther King do”. Please never allow this public dishonor again.

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  3. I’m embarrassed and a shame for them…Their father was not about this…I am sooo surprised by their greed…Dr. King was a beacon to us all and for the siblings to be so selfish is really a discredit to their mother and father

  4. Camella Jenkins on said:

    Andrew Young was one of MLK’s aides. With all due respect to Dr. King and Mrs. Coretta Scott King, their grown children need to sit the hell down and stop being sue happy! They’re always suing somebody. No doubt Dr. King was one of the greatest men that God Almighty placed on this earth, however the King siblings need to understand their father had aids and/or disciples if-you-will , by his side, so what’s wrong with that King siblings? For goodness sake, even the President of the United States has aides. King siblings no one can take away your father’s Legacy so GET OVER yourselves and stop being so selfish!

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