The children of the late Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. have been in a public dispute over their father’s legacy and belongings. There have been many who have worked both behind-the-scenes and in public to call for a resolution to this fight. However, these efforts failed, as the fight even entered the court system. At issue is the possession and use of Dr. King’s personal Bible as well as his actual Nobel Peace Prize. There is no doubt that Dexter, Bernice, and Martin L. King, III have every right to determine their father’s legacy. But the brothers contend that a 1995 agreement also gives King’s estate ownership of their father’s property. However, Bernice states that the Bible and Nobel Peace Prize belonged to their mother, the late Coretta Scott King and is not a part of that agreement. Her brothers, however, wanted to sell the Nobel medal and Bible to unknown parties. The Bible is considered even more important because President Obama used it to be sworn into office as the nation’s first Black president.
In an effort to mediate this issue, former US President Jimmy Carter has agreed to step in and help. Carter stated, “I am honored to be working with the King family in an effort to resolve the outstanding legal issues relating to their remarkable family legacy. I have great respect for each of the three heirs of this legacy. They are working diligently with me, and I believe we will be able to resolve these difficult disputes once and for all.”
The King children have also issued the following statement: “We are truly honored and encouraged by President Carter’s involvement, and we look forward to a positive resolution.”
There is no doubt that Dexter, Bernice and Martin L. King, III have every right to determine the destination of family heirlooms and their father’s legacy. But what about the legacy that was bequeathed to the world of King’s message and symbolism? Dr. King is an historical figure of the ages and his impact has been felt worldwide. It must be noted that Carter has been diagnosed with cancer. Carter is literally using his last days on Earth to resolve a situation dear to his heart and those of many worldwide.