Friday, July 1, 2022

MLK’s Kids Open Door to Better Relations With Dismissal of Licensing Lawsuit

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*The door seems to be opening for better relations among the children of Martin Luther King Jr. as one of two lawsuits involving the siblings has been dropped.

In a statement last week, Bernice King mentioned that her father’s estate voluntarily dropped its August 2013 lawsuit against the non-profit Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, which she heads, Reuters reports.

At the heart of the suit were efforts by King’s sons, Dexter King and Martin Luther King III, to revoke the center’s right to use the late civil rights leader’s name and image unless Bernice King was removed as CEO. The brothers were acting as majority board members of their father’s estate. The suit noted that the center failed to protect documents and other artifacts from fire, water, mildew and theft.

With the estate’s decision to drop the suit, Bernice King mentioned that the action vindicated the King Center’s stance on its licensing rights and offered a promising sign that her feud pitting against her brothers was on its way toward reconciliation.

“The dismissal is an important first step in rebuilding a long-lasting relationship between the two corporations,” she said, referring to the estate and the King Center.

In his own statement, Dexter King said the pulling of the lawsuit was a show of good faith as the King children were set to enter talks with the goal of resolving their differences outside a courtroom.

“None of us want to see the legacy of my parents, or our dysfunction, out on public display,” said Dexter King.

Although the licensing lawsuit has been dropped, another suit involving the King siblings is still active. That suit, which is between the estate and Bernice King, centers around the possession of the Bible their father carried during the civil rights movement and his 1964 Nobel Prize. According to Reuters, King’s sons voted to sell the items in a 2-1 vote of the estate’s board last year. Bernice King voiced her opposition to the sale as she called the items “sacred.”

In turn, the estate sued Bernice King in its quest for the return of the items, which are currently held by a court until the suit is resolved. Earlier this month, an Atlanta judge heard arguments from each side regarding the case. If the case isn’t settled or dismissed, it will go to trial next month.



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