Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s children are disputing the ownership of their late father’s Nobel Peace Prize medal, Bible and papers. The trial is the latest is a series of legal disputes involving three surviving successors who had been quarreling among themselves and/or with others over the late reverend’s legacy.
Dr. King’s children have been involved in legal battles waged against the reverend’s friends and people who knew him, such as Andrew Young, ex-US ambassador to the UN and Atlanta mayor, and entertainer Harry Belafonte.
However, all those disputes seem to not be doing a favor to MLK’s memory. Even Judge McBurney, a superior court judge in Fulton, was exasperated by those trials, and wrote in a recent order:
It is hard to fathom how the important legacy that the competing parties claim to be seeking to protect will be well served by yet another very public airing of the disputes and squabbles that have sadly divided the King family in recent years.”
On Tuesday morning, Judge McBurney is about to rule on whose ownership Dr King’s annotated Bible and Noble Prize medal belong to – to the reverend’s two sons or to his daughter. Dexter King and Martin Luther King III, the reverend’s surviving sons, planned to sell those assets. However their sister, Bernice King, didn’t allow them to. So, the whole situation ended in a trial.
The judge could also delay the ruling Tuesday or send the case to trial on February 16.
Another lawsuit involving the King children was filed against the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change two years ago. Ms. King is the CEO of the center that is listed among Atlanta’s top tourist draws.
In 2006, the children sold several of Dr. King’s papers for $32 million to Atlanta city hall that had raised the money to prevent those three from auctioning the documents off. However, it seems that Dr. King’s will was to offer sustenance to his family through his assets because he had copyrighted the majority of his works.
But, other MLK legacy-related issues were brought in court. In 1986, Dr King’s widow sued the Boston University to regain ownership over more than 80,000 papers her husband had donated to the school. She had no success tho. In 2011, her children sued MLK’s ex-secretary to prevent her from selling nearly 100 documents written by their father. They also had no success.
In 2013, Harry Belafonte, a close friend of the reverend, sued the three children for preventing him from selling some documents.
After their mother’s death in 2006, the three siblings started a series of lawsuits over a final patch of the King’s legacy. In 2010, they seemed to have reached an agreement.
Image Source: Atlanta Daily World