Feud hurts those who love history

Published 12:29 am Saturday, October 4, 2008

The sibling rivalry, as such, continues to rage among the children of Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta.

Now the battle has taken center stage again and may deprive historians and those interested in the history of the civil rights movement of some very important information about Coretta Scott King.

The three children have continued to play tug-of-war over a $1.4 million book deal until the publisher, the New York-based Penguin Group, is about to terminate the contract and demand King Inc. return $300,000 in royalties.

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At issue is the photos, personal writings and letters of Coretta Scott King. Two of the children, Bernice King and Martin Luther King III, maintain their mother didn’t want to work with the author anymore on the book. They don’t want the documents given to the publisher, but want them distributed among their mother’s heirs.

Dexter King, president and chief executive officer of King Inc., signed the book contract. His siblings have sued him.

The children also have argued whether Coretta Scott King’s biography is part of King Inc., since it was not part of the 10,000-document collection auctioned in 2006. This $32 million take was divided equally among the three children.

Who gets the documents depends on what story is told and how Coretta Scott King will be remembered from primary documents.

The rest of us wait as the children squabble.

What a loss to history.