MLK kids' legal fight must have him 'turning in his grave'

8:01 PM, Feb 4, 2014   |    comments
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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, addresses marchers during his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on Aug. 28, 1963. (Photo: NBC News)

ATLANTA -- The estate of Martin Luther King Jr. is asking a judge to force the civil rights icon's daughter to relinquish her father's Nobel Peace Prize and "traveling" Bible.

The complaint against Bernice King was filed Friday in an Atlanta court by her father's estate, which is controlled by her brothers, Martin Luther King III and Dexter King.


The lawsuit says Martin Luther King Jr.'s heirs in 1995 assigned their rights to property inherited from the civil rights icon to the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. Inc. The lawsuit says Bernice King has "secreted and sequestered" the medal and Bible in violation of that agreement.

Bernice King says in a statement that her brothers want to sell the medal and Bible to a private buyer and that she opposes that.

"They (the brothers) want to sell to a private buyer, our father's most prized possessions," the statement said in part. "I am opposed to the selling of these extremely sacred items."


Word of yet another feud among the siblings does not sit well with journalist Maria Saporta. She grew up with the King family. One of her closest friends when she was in school was the late Yolanda King.

"You would think that those would be heirlooms that the family would want to keep," Saporta said. "Prized possessions; the legacy of their father."

This is not the first time the King brothers have filed suit against their sister. In August 2013, they allege the King Center, headed by Bernice King, had been careless with historical documents, recordings and even their father's remains in the coffin. They claimed the items are at risk from fire and water damage, mold, mildew and theft.

Now, another lawsuit -- a continued feud, and a resolution not likely.

"My brothers' decision to sue me is drastic and grieves me greatly," Bernice King says in the document. "I have absolutely no desire to be in court or to fight yet another public battle. Our father must be turning in his grave."

Bernice King plans to discuss the matter more at a news conference on Thursday.

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