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Oct 15, 2008 8:33 am


Quarreling Siblings



Robbie Brown,"Dr. King's Children Battling Over Book," NYT, 13 October, and Brian Feagans,"Auditor to help Kings catalog MLK love letters," AJC, 14 October, bring you up to date on the struggle between Dexter King, on the one hand, and his surviving siblings, Martin and Bernice, on the other, for control of the Martin Luther King estate. This is the third lawsuit that they have recently filed against each other.

The Martin Luther King Papers Project would have an interest in the papers that are being withheld by Bernice (a suitcase of letters, now scattered over a hundred boxes?). Coretta maintained that correspondence between her husband and herself was part of the Coretta Scott, not the Martin Luther, King Papers, but that didn't keep her from asking thousands of other people to share their privately owned documents with the MLK Papers Project. I would know, because I drafted those letters for her to sign. I have long believed that the editor of the King Papers, Clayborne Carson, ought to examine early federal grant applications that were signed by Coretta for her commitment to make all MLK-related documents available to the Project. The city of Atlanta, which recently paid $32 million for a major collection of the MLK Papers, ought also complain about what the family withheld from it, but it is unlikely that it will.

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Paul Noonan - 10/15/2008

Every time I read another story about MLK's kids selling their father's image for use in a commercial or, as here, squabbling among themselves I can't help thinking of his famous statement at the 1963 rally when he expressed the hope that when his children grew up they would be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.

Well, thanks to Dr. King and many others, African-Americans are judged by their character more than by their skin color to a greater degree than was imaginable in 1963.

And as to the character of Martin III, Dexter and Berniece...? Well, it's not like they're out there commiting crimes or anything, but one would think they could find ways to spend their lives that better reflect their father's legacy.

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