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MLK’s children fight over selling Bible, Nobel medal

ATLANTA — It was a startling development in the latest legal wrangling among Martin Luther King Jr.’s heirs.

Speaking from the pulpit of King’s former church, his daughter, Rev. Bernice King, said she no longer wishes to be lumped together in the public mind with her brothers, Martin Luther King III and Dexter King.

“We are different people, with different minds, different ideologies,” she said Thursday at Ebenezer Baptist Church. “So please, please, please do not put us in the same category.”

Bernice King, who heads the King Center next door, was responding to a lawsuit filed Friday in which her brothers, as representatives of King’s estate, are suing her to turn over their father’s personal Bible — used by President Obama at his second inauguration — and his Nobel Peace Prize medal. She says her brothers want to sell the items to a private individual.

“This is not another King children battle and certainly not about money,” she said. “This is about principle.”

The complaint filed Friday in Fulton County Superior Court does not mention intent to sell the items. The King Estate’s attorney could not be reached Thursday afternoon.

King’s children have famously fought among themselves and with outsiders for years over control of their father’s legacy and intellectual property.

But the fight this time seems to have struck a nerve, with many here siding with Bernice King. She was flanked Thursday by about a dozen ministers, including civil rights icon C.T. Vivian, honored last year with a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and King relatives.

“This is not about money,” Vivian said. “This is about dignity and worth. And the Nobel Peace Prize belongs to the American people.”

“When I learned of this lawsuit, something in me died,” said Rev Timothy McDonald. “This is different. It’s like selling his spiritual rights. We understand this is a spiritual issue. It’s not an economic issue.”


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