Dr. Bernice King said she’ll reluctantly acquiesce to a judge’s order to hand over her father’s Nobel Peace Prize medal and his personal Bible that President Obama used during his second Inauguration swearing in ceremony. But she also used a press conference at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church to put her brothers, Martin Luther King III and Dexter King, on blast for coveting the millions they might receive for selling the heirlooms.
Calling Dr. Martin Luther King’s iconic possessions priceless, Bernice King implored the surviving siblings to rethink their stance.
“I appeal to you to reconsider your position and not sell our father’s Bible and Nobel Peace Prize,” Bernice King said. “These two artifacts are too sacred to be sold or be bought under any circumstance.”
King’s estate is run by his two sons, Martin Luther King III and Dexter King. The estate’s lawyers filed court papers January 31 asking a judge to order their sister, the Rev. Bernice King, to surrender the items.
“I implore you to consider the magnitude of this moment in history and how you want your individual legacies to be defined,” she said to her brothers, who were not present. Martin Luther King III still lives in Atlanta while Dexter King resides in Malibu, Calif.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ordered that the Nobel prize and Bible be kept together in a safe deposit box in the name of the estate but that the keys be given to the court.
Bernice was joined at the news conference by supporters, including Elizabeth Omilami, the daughter of civil rights leader Hosea Williams, and the Rev. Willie Bolden, who said he participated with King in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Bernice said some people had urged her to refuse to hand over the Bible and Nobel Peace Prize and to go to jail instead. But she said she will comply with the judge’s order.
“It is, deep in my soul, difficult to place what my father described as precious heirlooms under the custody of the government, even if only for a season,” she said. “Yet, I recognize that justice and righteousness are not always aligned, and there is often a disconnect between God’s law and man’s law.”