MLK's Family Says Foundation Can't Use King's Name

The Memorial Foundation was the leading force behind the building of Martin Luther King Jr.'s statue. 

Posted: 03/28/2013 12:36 PM EDT
MLK's Family Says Foundation Can't Use King's Name

The foundation that led the effort to build the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., has been told by King's family that they can no longer use his name for their organization.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation is now called the Memorial Foundation, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The foundation President Harry E. Johnson Sr. has cooperated with the request and says their mission has changed to ensuring visitors worldwide visit the monument.

Some have frowned upon the family's decision. 

AJC reports:

"...others think the decision reflects poorly on King’s children, who have been quick to legally protect King’s image from others trying to profit from it. While selling his image to several national advertisers, the estate has sued newspapers and authors who have tried to use King’s words.

Bernice King, chief executive officer of the King Center, is out of the country and not available for comment, a spokesman said. A spokesperson for Martin Luther King III said he would not comment because it is a legal matter.

But Tricia Harris, the former general manager of Intellectual Property Management, the for-profit organization set up to run the King estate, said the terms were always clear the relationship would have a beginning and an ending.

“They were supposed to build a memorial. Period,” said Harris, who helped negotiate the deal. “It is difficult to watch all of these attacks on the family, because it was clear what the roles and responsibilities were."

Harris, who is now an independent consultant, said she was not speaking on the Kings’ behalf. She said while the foundation wanted to be able to raise money in King’s name, a delicate balance had to be struck, because fund-raising and programming are also the purpose of the King Center.

“The issue has been slanted to give the impression that the King Center is refusing to give them permission,” Harris said. “It is applaudable that they want to continue the work, but the intent was for them to transition their support. At the 11th hour they wanted to go in a different direction.”

Read more here.


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(Photo: EPA/JIM LO SCALZO /LANDOV)

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