Harry Belafonte settles lawsuit against MLK Jr. estate

ATLANTA -- Singer Harry Belafonte has settled his lawsuit against the estate of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior.

The lawsuit was filed in October 2013 in federal court against the three surviving children of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. over items he says were given to him by Dr. King.

Friday a joint statement from lawyers on both sides said:

Harry Belafonte and the Estate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Inc. announced today that they have agreed to a settlement of the lawsuit involving Mr. Belafonte's possession of documents acquired during his long friendship with Dr. King. The parties have reached a compromise, the terms of which are confidential and have resulted in Mr. Belafonte retaining possession of the documents. With their agreement, the parties express their appreciation to one another for the good faith efforts that led to this resolution.

At issue was three documents that used to be in Belafonte's collection of memorabilia, along with other photos and letters on the walls of his apartments, chronicling his long friendship with Dr. King. Belafonte says the papers were given to him by Dr. King himself; by his widow, Coretta Scott King; and by Dr. King's close aide Stanley Levison.

Dr. King's children -- Dexter, Bernice and Martin Luther King III -- have said the documents were taken without permission and belong to the estate.

The documents reportedly included:

* A three-page outline for Dr. King's 1967 speech "The Casualties of the War in Vietnam," written on a legal pad in Belafonte's New York apartment.

* A letter of condolence from President Lyndon B. Johnson to Mrs. King.

* An envelope King had in his pocket the day he was assassinated in 1968. On it he had scribbled notes for a speech he was to give in Memphis.

Belafonte reportedly tried to sell the documents in 2008 at Sotheby's auction house to raise money, he says, for Barrios Unidos, a charity that works with street gangs. King's estate challenged the sale, saying they are "part of a wrongfully acquired collection."


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