Saturday, April 18, 2009

When a legend becomes a money-spinner

I'm forced to agree with The Gawker's opinion that 'Martin Luther King Jr.'s Children Are Shameless, Greedy Shakedown Artists'.

A monument commemorating slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. will be built on the National Mall this year. King's children are gouging the private foundation that is building it for nearly $1 million.

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation has raised about $104 million, mostly from foundations, corporations, and private donors, for the construction of the memorial. But King's children and cousin, who own King's intellectual property and likeness through companies and foundations they control, have demanded more than $800,000 in licensing and management fees for the use of King's words and images in the memorial foundation's fundraising materials, the AP reports.

. . .

The foundation—run by King's son Dexter, while Bernice and Martin Luther King III sit on the board children—has profited by claiming ownership over their father's legacy for years. They successfully sued USA Today and CBS in the 1990s for publishing his "I Have a Dream" speech without paying, and have since charged CNN for exclusive rights to broadcast it.

. . .

The King kids told the AP that they charged the fees because the memorial's fundraising drive has cut into contributions to their own King Center. According to the King Center's Form 990 tax returns for 2006, Dexter drew a $186,000 salary from the King Center, which also paid $1 million consulting fee to Intellectual Properties Management. Clearly the kids need money more than they need a monument to their father's memory.

There's more at the link.

This appears to be shameless opportunism by Dr. King's children, growing rich on his legacy while ignoring the fact that he'd have been the first to distance himself from their tactics, if he could. I hope the word spreads about this, so that the 'industry' they've created around the King name may be exposed and brought down. That, at least, would be a fitting tribute to their father.


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