Perhaps someone needs to organize a march to protest the King family mess. Bernice King, the daughter of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., held a press conference last week where she pleaded with her brothers not to sell their father’s Bible and Nobel Peace Prize.
“I implore you to consider the magnitude of this moment in history and how you want your individual legacies to be defined,” King said at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Just stop the madness. The forever feuding King kids are out of control.
King’s estate is run by his two sons, Martin Luther King III and Dexter King. The estate’s lawyers filed court papers on Jan. 31 asking a judge to order their sister, Bernice King, to surrender the items.
Bernice insists that King III and Dexter have contacted people who want to buy the Bible and the Noble Prize. A judge, who is trying to mediate a temporary solution, set a deadline for the items to be placed in a safe deposit box and Bernice King says she will comply with the judge’s order.
“It is, deep in my soul, difficult to place what my father described as precious heirlooms under the custody of the government, even if only for a season,” she said. “Yet, I recognize that justice and righteousness are not always aligned, and there is often a disconnect between God’s law and man’s law. With God’s help, I can only believe that the judge’s ruling is not a setback but an opportunity for my brothers to step up to reason and do what their conscience tells them is right,” she said.
Are Martin III and Dexter so desperate that they need to cash in on their father’s personal mementos? Here’s an ironic twist: When King was notified of his award, he announced that he would turn over the prize money – $54,123 – to support the civil rights movement.
Fifty years after King unselfishly donated his Nobel Prize money to his campaign for social justice, his children are fighting each other in court over the same Noble Prize medal – for money.
It seems like the King family is suing everybody – or at least threatening all kinds of folks with potential legal action. Last week, Georgia’s governor was also put on notice. A Georgia bill calls for a monument to Dr. King to be erected on the grounds of the Georgia Capitol.
Gov. Nathan Deal told a congregation at Ebenezer Baptist Church in January that he would work with the legislature to secure a place at the Capitol for a memorial. But Eric Tidwell, who represents the King family, sent a letter to the governor’s office saying the estate owns all rights to Dr. King’s “name, image, likeness, words, rights of publicity, copyrighted works, recorded voice and trademark interests.”
When the media reported that the governor referenced this initiative in remarks he made on the King holiday, we expected to hear from your office and the appropriate parties seeking the estate’s input and approval,” Tidwell wrote. The latest dispute between the King family comes months after Martin III and Dexter decided to sue Andrew Young, the former U.S. Ambassador and close personal friend to King.
At issue is a lawsuit initiated by King’s sons. The legal argument focuses on who has the rights to King’s words and image. King’s sons are apparently angry at Young over footage of King that appears in a production by Young’s foundation.
Another of King’s friends — actor Harry Belafonte – is also embroiled in a legal dispute with King’s children over ownership of some King documents. I have no idea how this feud ultimately gets resolved, I only know that a King family once regarded as proud upstanding citizens, has now been reduced to punch lines and pity.