Usually, I like to use this space to start a conversation about the political and social issues facing our country as a whole; I try to focus on issues that either explicitly or implicitly affect everyone.
And so it might be a surprise to some people that I want to address a specific controversy: the slander of the family of Martin Luther King. This might not seem like it is everyone’s business, but the King family is a major part of our national history, and slander is a necessarily public injustice. Undoing this injustice must in turn be public.
Columnist George E. Curry has published an article called “Greedy King Children At it Again,” which is nothing more than a hit piece. In the column, Curry alleges that the King family charges people for use of the famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Dr. Bernice King has made it clear to me emphatically that no school was ever charged a royalty nor was any school ever sued for using that speech. “In reviewing the past records and files I have never seen any indication that such events happened before.” Whereas Dr. King had a dream, now his children have a nightmare.
There is a legitimate, but unrelated personal dispute between the King Memorial Project Foundation and the King family. That needs to be discussed, but bringing in false allegations contributes nothing.
I don’t deny that The King family is a family of human beings, after all, and no family is perfect. But I think we can all sympathize with them: I cannot imagine the pressure they all feel to live up to the legacy of their parents. Imagine the weight of the shadow of that great man. They must live every aspect of their lives in full public view, with people ready to attack them no matter what they do or whatever position they take. That would be difficult for anyone.
It was not the King children who established royalty rights in all of Dr. King’s work. This was done specifically by Dr. and Mrs. King for the benefit of their children. Furthermore, this is only for the commercialization and profit off of the work of Dr. King. And isn’t that entirely reasonable? The King family is not charging people for, say, educational usage of their father.