MLK, Jr., Yes Greedy King children are at it again. : ThyBlackMan

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

MLK, Jr., Yes Greedy King children are at it again.

September 23, 2012 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry

( In his “I Have a Dream Speech” delivered at the 1963 March on Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said he dreamed of the day his children would be judged not by the color of their skin but the content of their character. If Dr. King had known how Martin III, Dexter and Bernice would later fight over money generated by commercially exploiting his name, he might have omitted any reference to their character. When it comes to money, King’s remaining children have no character. 

The latest of many examples is their profiting from the construction of the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial. They—and all Americans—should be grateful that Harry E. Johnson Sr. and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity had the vision and unflagging commitment to believe they could erect a memorial to Dr. King on the National Mall. Last year, the 30-foot, 8-inch statue of King was unveiled, dwarfing the 19-foot statue of Thomas Jefferson and the Abraham Lincoln memorial, which is 19 feet, 6 inches.

Instead of being satisfied with this impressive memorial to their father—the first monument to an African-American on the Mall—the King children saw dollar signs. They have collected more than $3 million in licensing fees from the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation. The fees  were charged in exchange for allowing the foundation to use King’s words and likeness in fundraising appeals and as part of the memorial complex itself.

Harry Johnson has raised $119 million of the $120 million needed to build the memorial. But I doubt that any donor gave money to the project with the expectation that the King children would be able to line their pockets with their contribution.

David Garrow, the Pulitzer Prize-winning King biographer, told the Associated Press that Dr. King would have been “absolutely scandalized by the profiteering behavior of his children.” He added, “I don’t think the Jefferson family, the Lincoln family…I don’t think any other group of family ancestors has been paid a licensing fee for a memorial in Washington. One would think any family would be so thrilled to have their forefather celebrated and memorialized in D.C. that it would never dawn on them to ask for a penny.”

The King family is not looking for pennies or dollars. They are looking for millions. They are already making millions from King’s “I Have a Dream Speech.” King was a very public man, giving a public speech at the Lincoln Memorial, yet the King children claim that he was a private citizen and therefore they are entitled to profit from his public pronouncements. They successfully sued CBS to prevent the network from airing the “I Have a Dream Speech”—without paying them.

But would they win such a suit today? Fortunately for them, people are willing to give them a pass because they are Dr. King’s dysfunctional children, not because of anything they have done. Private citizens don’t have federal holidays named in their honor. Monuments aren’t erected to them on the National Mall. If Dr. King isn’t a public figure, no one is.

Even worse than charging the foundation that erected the King Memorial for use of King’s words and images, the King family has now told the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation that their licensing agreement has expired and the family will not extend it. Not even for a sizeable fee. And by the way, the foundation can no longer use King in its name and will have to change that, too.

So what is their angle? You know the money grubbing Kings had to have one. Bernice King, CEO of the King Center in Atlanta, announced a year-long celebration leading to the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

“We are excited by the four days of activities we have organized to commemorate my father’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, in cooperation with the MLK Jr. National Historic Site and the CDC,” she said. “As we launch the year-long countdown to the global observance of the 50th anniversary, the Dreamkeepers Program events will help us address the still relevant challenge of creating a more just society through nonviolent activism.”

The King Center—which has been managed by Dexter, Martin III and now Bernice—hopes to raise $170 million from the events.

The famous march was about more than a young preacher from Atlanta delivering a sterling speech that mesmerized the nation. Rather, it was called the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It was organized by A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

With an official Black unemployment rate of 14.4 percent, the emphasis should again be on jobs, not Dr. King’s speech.

But a focus on jobs wouldn’t put any money into the King coffers. And they’ve already shown that is one of their major objectives. They had arranged for Sotheby to auction King’s papers in 2006. But Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin stepped in and organized a private group that paid $32 million for the papers and donated them to Morehouse College, King’s alma mater.

Had he been alive, that’s something Dr. King probably would have done. But unlike his children, he wouldn’t do it to make a buck.

Written By George Curry

Official website;




7 Responses to “MLK, Jr., Yes Greedy King children are at it again.”
  1. toomanygrandkids says:

    Are they donating any of their profits to other black organizations or are they keeping it for themselves? Rich black people/so-called black organizations very rarely give/donate money to their own kind. Regardless how much decent black people stuggle on a daily basis. The King children have profited from their father’s legacy, big time. They’ve gained economic power through the civil rights movement. But how much of what they profit goes toward black causes?

  2. reality says:

    and I’ve never contributed to the others because I know first hand their disservice to our community.

  3. Lisa says:

    They help more than the King children do. I know that for sure. I have never given to them and don’t plan to.

  4. reality says:

    Everyone you named has race baited to fatten their pockets without advancing the communities they represent. That said, I no longer give to the King foundation.

  5. Lisa says:

    I understand that many families who are part of a legacy, such as Dr. King and Coretta Scott King, make profits from what was left behind, but everything is not about money. No one knows what Dr. King and Coretta Scott King would have done, if they could have made the amount of money that their children are making today, but money cannot help the many African Americans that continue to deal with racism, no jobs, and no opportunities. Yes, we as African American people should be doing all we can to utilize the doors that have been opended by Dr. King and Coretta Scott King, but we continue to need help from our African American leaders. Take a look at Rev. AL Sharpton. This is a man, well in age, that continues to fight for civil rights and justice. Does he get paid? Yes he does, but he is willing to fight for justice if you “Just call AL”, not “Just PAY AL”! Where were the King children when many blacks were left to suffer and die when Hurricane Katrina hit? Where were the King children when Jena 6 occurred? Where were the King children when Trayvon Marton was gunned down and his parents needed help? We can only make a speech or not show up at these events, but we can attend Michael Jackson’s funeral? When issues like this occurred, Dr. King and Coretta Scott King did not wait until they were called to go out and fight for justice, nor did they ask, “How much?”. They were there, hand in hand, standing for the rights of many. Unfortunately, people will always benefit financially from what they can, but what will we do when leaders like Rev. AL Sharpton, Ambassador Andrew Young, Rep. John Lewis, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Jesse Jackson, Jr, or President Barack Obama. First Lady Michelle Obama are no longer here? I’m not saying that the King children should try to be like their mother and father, but money is not always the focus point. As First Lady Michelle Obama said in her speach at the DNC, “And he believes that when you work hard and done well and walk through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. No, you reach back and you give other folks the same chances that help you succeed.”

  6. James Davis says:

    Think about this:

    If they donot profit from their father’s legacy … who does? In this country, it would be difficult to find anyone who leaves money laying on the ground. Enterprising profiteers would make the money and who knows how they would handle the King legacy. So the children are implied by the writer to be the profiteers. I don’t think they have done such a bad job of handling their father’s legacy. There are many families of civil right iconic figures who have fared poorly after the death of their love ones who lost their lives in the battle for our rights. You must remember at the end of the day, many of these figures were breadwinners in their households who may not have left life insurance policies. And they may not have had great wealth which would have provided for their families. Who would the writer rather see profit from the legacy is the question? Is the writer so naive as to believe there would be no profiteers? Peace.

  7. Ron says:

    The writer should first educate himself on the lessons of intellectual property and how estates protect or market their properties. What the King family has done is nothing new and families who have a “brand”, sells licenses when their is a demand. The estates of John Kennedy, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson are a few of the famous names to have done this. It’s called the American Dream. Harry Johnson’s father didn’t become famous and pay the ultimate price with his life. The King children lost their father and their mother sacrificed her entire life, forgoing her right to make millions to serve humanity. Do I see a double standard or is the writer suffering from the crab-in-the barrel syndrome?

    On another note, the writer seems to know what Dr. King would do so well. Anyone who knew and understood Dr. King would know that he would have preferred the $119 million raised by Harry Johnson go towards helping the poor and underserved or towards the continuation of his legacy of nonviolence than building a concrete statue in his name. In my view, while it’s “nice” to have a statue, the money could have been well spent on resurrecting the Movement to truly do King’s work.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!