Show us the money.
That could easily become the family mantra for the surviving lawsuit-crazed children of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
While the King siblings — Bernice King, Dexter Scott King and Martin Luther King Jr. III — have reportedly spent millions of dollars suing each other over the years, we now learn that none of Dr. King’s major memorabilia will be on display when the new Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture opens to the public on Sept. 24.
Why? Because the King children didn’t offer to loan any of their father’s artifacts to the museum.
The Washington Post reported that Rex Ellis, the museum’s director of curatorial affairs, met with the King children and reviewed King’s historic Nobel Peace Prize and King’s Bible.
But Ellis left Atlanta empty-handed.
“It’s outrageous,” Clarence Jones, King’s former attorney, told The Washington Post. “This is the Smithsonian. This is not just another party. This is one of the most important institutions now in the 21st century.”
“And this is probably the greatest civil rights leader in the 20th century,” he said. “I find it shameful and I’m sad.”
It is very sad.
Coretta Scott King believed Dr. King’s belongings should be shared with the world through the King Center in Atlanta.
Why can’t the King children pull it together and agree to offer the museum some of their father’s keepsakes so visitors from across the country — and around the world — can view the historic memorabilia?
This is a travesty. The King children should be role models for young people everywhere but instead they have been reduced to punch lines by folks who have labeled them greedy and dysfunctional.
The King children are no strangers to suing each other. A few years ago, Bernice insisted that King III and Dexter contacted people who wanted to buy Dr. King’s Bible and the Nobel Prize. A judge had to mediate the case and, for now, the items are locked inside a safe deposit box.
“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,” Bernice King said at the time.
Were Martin III and Dexter so desperate that they needed to cash in on their father’s personal mementos? Are they driven by greed?
Consider this offering from The Washington Post:
For years, the siblings have blocked media outlets from using King’s words or image without paying what some have described as exorbitant licensing fees. The nonprofit foundation that built the monument to King on the Mall, finished in 2011, paid $800,000. The estate also has sued when they think they are not being sufficiently compensated. That included going after King’s close friend Harry Belafonte when the actor and singer wanted to sell letters and other papers given him by King for charity….In 2013, the King estate, as part of a lawsuit, demanded that Andrew Young, another King confidant and the former mayor of Atlanta, be removed from the board of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change after his foundation used material featuring King in a documentary.
It’s disheartening to learn that the King children are intentionally depriving Americans of viewing Dr. King’s artifacts. Bernice, Dexter, and Martin III are making a mockery of their father’s memory. And that’s disgraceful.
What do you think?